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Subotica Rathayatra: 
First Urban Rathayatra in Yugoslavia 

by Damodara Prema das
Click here for full size
Subotica Rathayatra
Subotica Rathayatra
Subotica Rathayatra

The first urban ISKCON Rathayatra in Yugoslavia was held in Subotica on 28 September 2002. The Rathayatra festival was attended by His Holiness Jayapataka Swami Maharaja and around thirty devotees from Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Italy, and Hungary and had been organized with pioneering efforts by Ivesvara das and devotees from Serbia. The festivities started at 1:00 p.m. The chariot with Their Lordships Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra started from the city hall and proceeded to the main pedestrian zone in the city center, moving around the big fountain.

His Holiness Jayapataka Swami Maharaja was leading kirtans, and devotees were distributing the Holy Name, maha prasadam, Srila Prabhupada’s books, and invitations to a public program to be held later indoors.

Before the festival, devotees had some doubts and fears about how the first urban Rathayatra festival here would be accepted, but the united devotees started chanting the Holy Names of the Lord led by HH Jayapataka Swami, and slowly the chanting attracted all people present. In the beginning, there were not many people, and those present were just looking and wondering and then started smiling. It was clear that the assembled devotees, united in chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra had made a strong and attractive influence on people’s hearts. Many people joined in pulling the chariot and some even joined in dancing. Seeing this, the devotees felt even more encouraged and ecstatic.

Seeing the half-empty streets in the beginning, the devotees wished that more people could receive the mercy of the Lord. Being present in everybody’s heart, Lord Jagannath later reciprocated and sent us more people than we could have expected. It was Saturday, the day of weddings, so the main park in front of the city hall gradually became inundated with hundreds of wedding guests.

Then they were flooded with the mercy of Lord Jagannath. We were surprised to see how all the wedding guests suddenly redirected their attention to us. All the wedding photographers and cameras left the wedding party and came to take pictures of the chariot and devotees. Obviously, Lord Jagannath’s party was much more blissful.

It was a small Rathayatra festival, but all the devotees had the impression that this could mark the beginning of a new era of expanding Krishna consciousness in this area.

Your servant
Damodara Prema dasa

© CHAKRA 12 October 2002

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