PENANG, MALAYSIA – You can be sure to be immersed in kirtan and dance during the Ratha Yatra in Penang Island. This festival was celebrated this year on 13 December. The chariot procession started at 5.30pm from the Dato Keramat Sivan Temple with crowd of devotees only enough to pull the chariots of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Baladeva and Subhadra Devi and Gaura Nitai. But within one hour the crowd swelled to about one thousand and when the chariots reached little India at about 8pm the crowd had jammed the streets. At Little India some tourists and onlookers joined the festival, singing and dancing with the devotees.
HH Bhanu Swami who accompanied the chariot was seen distributing Lord Jagannatha Maha Prasadam, HH Janananda Gosvami was leading and organising kirtan, whereas the ISKCON Malaysia President, HH Bhaktivrjendranandana Swami was giving association to the devotees during the procession. The festival ended at the Chinese assembly hall at about 9.30pm by which time prasadam was being served to about 3000 people.
At the Chinese Assembly Hall the sanyasis respectively delivered their Ratha Yatra addresses. Special guest for the night was YB R.S.N. Rayer – Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Elected Representative of the State) for Seri Delima, Penang. YB Rayer was especially pleased with the cultural performances and pledged to assist ISKCON in making the festival as one of the annual tourist attraction and proposed that we end at a stadium to cater to the big crowd. He was pleased to see hundreds of youths dancing and chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra so joyously. He also encouraged ISKCON Penang Island to apply for a government grant next year and celebrate the festival in a much bigger scale. He pledged to support the application.