BY CHITRANGADA DEVI DASI
It was truly a delightful surprise to see at least 30 children, girls and boys, so enthusiastically engaged in devotional service. Many came as early as 8.30am to help with making garlands for the Ratha, whilst some cleaned up the temple area, helped with small errands, decorating Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasasan….every child was joyfully engaged.
I was very honoured and extremely happy when I was asked if my Boys and little Subhadra could be on the Ratha 2 weeks ago. I asked my Lordships permission and prayed about it and I knew in my heart that it was Their wish to be pulled by these sincere and sweet children. It was amazing because my deities were supposed to travel on the Ratha in Ujjain last year at the Ujjain Ratha Yatra but that never materialized because I had to return before the festival. When I saw how blissful They looked dressed so majestically in
Their new beautiful peacock dresses (donated by Sahadeva prabhu & his family) I knew this was Their special arrangement. Jaganatha with His resplendant wide smile was so captivating and having cared for Him and Balaram for the last 5 years, I truly felt They wanted to play with these children. They were the Boys of Vrindavan.
At 6.00pm, the Deities were taken out one by one and placed onto the Ratha. Wow! what a lovely Ratha. It looked just like the Jaganath Puri one, in shape, colour and not forgetting the artistic paintings on the wooden panels around the Ratha. Kudos to all the prabhus who organized the making of this Ratha. An obvious effort of love and dedication. The children arranged themselves by the ropes and prepared themselves for the pulling of Their Lordships. I could see in their smiling glowing faces that they knew and understood that they were pulling the Lord of the Universe. Vinodh, Jeyanthy matajis son, was called to perform the arati, which I must say was done like a professional pujari. Both he and another boy walked by the Ratha until the end , blowing the conch and making sure the Deities were comfortable during Their journey.
A very sweet 14 year old girl, whose name is Anisha, made delicious burfi for the Deities, all by herself with the advise and instructions of Jeyanthy mataji, the Gopal’s Fun School teacher. The sweets were distributed to everyone around. The children then began to pull the ropes in a systematic and organized way. Whenever the Deties decided to stop to give darshan, they would gather in circles and lines to dance and sing joyfully and when Their Lordships were ready to move they would run to pick up the rope and proceed with the procession. As HG Simheswara prabhu mentioned in the class, many onlookers were quite enchanted with the view….children in devotee clothes, pulling the cart, dancing and chanting with so much joy. I knew that Srila Prabhupada was happy to witness this occassion. These kids were indeed “preaching” by their Krishna conscious activity, behaviour and mood.
It was a pleasant surprise to see our bramacharis at the festival. HG Kripa Sindhu prabhu very sweetly joined and led the kirtan for a while and then encouraged Vinodh to take over. So it was truly a children’s affair. Children leading the kirtan, pulling the ropes, controlling traffic, blowing the conch, serving prasadam, dancing and performing worship….all with the patient supervision of the adult devotees The Ratha arrived about 7.30-8.00pm at the centre and an evening class pursued. HG Simheswara prabhu gave a very informal, casual and in my opinion a sweet class. Actually it was not a class but a post mortem of the festival. He asked questions to the children and got enthusiastic responses. He said that this Children Ratha Yatra was a ‘first time’ in Malaysia and he was very impressed by the children and the guidance given by the adult devotees. The Temple President then arranged for Simheswara prabhu to give out plates with offerings from Their Lordships as tokens of appreciation to the main people who contributed to the success of this festival.
I left ISKCON Klang with a full heart….I can’t begin to describe the joy of being absorbed in absolute Krishna consciousness!. I felt truly humbled by the love and sweetness of these devotees, the children, Ram Gopinath prabhu and his family and Kalidas prabhu and his wonderful children, the whole lot of them actually. Very simple and sincere grand disciples of Srila Prabhupada.
I last went on to the alter in the Calcutta Temple, by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, my Gurudev and the presiding deities, Sri Sri Radha Govinda. Yesterday, I was informed that the presiding deities in Klang were also Radha Govinda! How amazing and extremely merciful!. I pray that I will get to serve Them soon.
My heartiest congratulations to the many persons behind the success of this festival. But special mention must be made of Jeyanthy mataji, who indeed was the main force behind this effort. Her sincere efforts to guide and nurture these children was indeed manifest and truly appreciated by the parents and Klang congregation. They are the emissaries of our Sankirtan movement. By giving them caring, and loving guidance and nurturing them properly in the edicts of Krishna Consciousness, they will be Srila Prabhupada’s soldiers. They will indeed fulfill Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission to take the holy name to every town and village.
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada for bringing the Ratha yatra festival to every town and village!