The 30th annual Michigan Rathyatra (Chariot festival) is going to be held on Sunday at Novi, Michigan. Thousands of people are expected to participate in the pulling of 40-foot-tall chariot carrying a beautiful idol of Lord Krishna through the streets of Novi.
The Michigan annual festival started in 1985 at Detroit. Later it was shifted to Belle Isle. It is being held at Novi, for last few years, where many thousand people gather every year.
It is an open to all festival and there will be an Indian cultural festival with free lunch, music and yoga after the procession.
This annual celebration is done as a counterpart to the famous Rathyatra of Puri in the Indian state of Odisha, where every year, Lord Jagannatha is taken in procession, a celebration attended by around 1 million people.
The celebration of this festival was started in US by International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in 1967 at San Francisco and it later spread to other cities.
The devotees believe that the Lord comes out on the streets to visit his devotees on this day. The procession will start from Novi Civil Center at 10 Mile Road, on Sunday at 11 am.
SAN FRANCISCO, JULY 28, 2017: The 51st Annual San Francisco Rathayatra Parade will be held on July 30.
The “Festival of the Chariots” (Rathayatra Festival) involves a parade with people pulling three chariots by ropes throughout Golden Gate Park. It also includes free vegetarian feast, live music, ancient Indian dances, etc. Thousands of people have reportedly been attending these free festivities in the past.
This parade is organized by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Berkeley (New Jagannatha Puri). ISKCON Berkeley Temple, said to be one of the ISKCON’s oldest temples in the world, opens daily at 04-30 am with Mangal Arati and holds Tulsi ((Holy Basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum) Puja (worship) every day. Jagannatha Swami Dasa is the Temple President. According to ISKCON, Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or God.
It is popularly deemed important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts, and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society. It has been stressed time and again that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksha (liberation), which is the goal of Hinduism. The Rathayatra Parade is thus organized annually to exhibit the richness of Hinduism.
Rath Yatra is said to be the oldest known parade in the world and it is believed that pullers of this Lord Jagannatha’s chariot receive immense spiritual benefit. Popularized outside India by ISKCON founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, this annual parade festival has reportedly been held annually in over 100 cities around the world since 1967.
The original Ratha Jatra is held on a grand scale in Puri (Odisha, India), where the presiding deities of Sri Mandira—Jagannatha, Balabhadra, and Subhadra—with celestial wheel Sudarshana are driven on the chariots to about two miles north Gundicha temple in an elaborate ritual procession, where the huge colorfully decorated chariots are drawn by thousands of devotees.
After a stay of seven days, the deities return to their abode in Sri Mandira. A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be highly auspicious and even a touch of the chariot is believed to yield benefits equivalent to several pious deeds. Many poets have written its glories. This year, it was held on June 25.
The practice of Rathayatra has recurring references in Hindu holy texts. Ancient Hindu scripture Katha Upanishad talks about the concept of chariot, where soul is the deity, body is the chariot, and intellect the charioteer. Skanda Purana also glorifies Rath Jatra’s sanctity.
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October 24, 2016: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda in New York City in 1966. Since then the society has expanded a lot. It now has millions of members worldwide, more than 500 centers and temples and about 100 affiliated vegetarian restaurants.
Since 1971, Krishna Lunch has been serving strictly vegetarian food to the students of University of Florida and the community of Gainesville. With $5 donation, one can enjoy the delicious rice, soups and halava. Dhristadyumna “Dennis” Das, 34, is the temple commander for the Gainesville Krishna House.
The food is served from 11 AM to 1:30 PM on all week days at the Krishna House. The restaurant is located one block north of the University’s campus. The food is available for delivery through Gatorfood.com.
According to Menaka Harjani, one of the devotees,” If you can’t pay, you can volunteer and get a free plate of food.” Each volunteer is responsible for a single task. One volunteer hand out the plates, one serves rice and the last one puts salad dressing on the salad and rams a fork.
A group of people continuously chant the Maha Mantra with cymbals and a drum. People gather at the Krishna House to discuss about philosophy and their personal lives. Everyone present at the House is treated with courtesy irrespective of their culture, belief or religion.
However, some people believe that the popularity of ISKCON worldwide has led many people to believe that Hinduism is all about Lord Krishna. According to Aparna Sethumadhavan, a student of the University, “Hare Krishna takes this cultural imperialism one step farther by twisting Hinduism so that it fits into modern ideas of what religion should entail without giving a thought to the thousands of years of history behind Hinduism.”
VARANASI, Sept 24 2016: It’s a rare event that is said to be happening after more than several hundred years. Eunuchs from across the country have converged in this holy town to do the ‘shraddha karma’ for their departed brethren during ‘pitrapaksh’, the period during which Hindus pay respects to their ancestors.
The eunuchs, led by their religious head, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, visited the fabled Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Maa Annapurna temple to propitiate the gods. She, along with the other eunuchs, did ‘dugdhabhishek’ (offering of milk) and ‘shodashopchar’ puja at the temple.
Acharya Srikant Mishra of the Vishwanath temple told IANS that 11 litres of milk was offered to Baba Vishwanath after which the eunuchs were gifted ‘manga vastra’ and ‘prasad’. The eunuchs then prayed at the Maa Annapurna Darbaar, where they offered ‘kumkum’ (vermillion) to the deity and prayed for the prosperity of all.
The eunuchs, after doing the puja at the banks of Ganga river, also prayed for safety of the jawans along the border. Hundreds of eunuchs then performed the ‘shraddha karma’ puja for their ancestors and prayed for peace to the departed souls.
The eunuchs offering the puja said they were doing so as they wanted their forefathers to be at peace like other departed souls.
“We were not able to do the puja for many years as at most places we are ostracised by the pundits, and it was only after we planned a group discussion that we came together here,” said one of the eunuchs.
A septugenarian eunuch informed IANS that the shraddha was being done only for the second time. The first was done during the Mughal era.
“Through generations, we have been informed that the last shraddha karma was done doing the Mughaliya Sultanat,” she added.
“Hum to bas itni prarthna ke saath aye hain ki is janam mein jo bhi bura sahi hua ho hammare sath, agle janam mein na ho, hammer saathiyon ko mukti mile aur voh janta mein sadharan jeevan vyateet karin (We are here to simply pray for our gurus and friends who are no more so that they take a proper, normal birth in the next life),” said another ageing eunuch, who rued how being one was a torment.
Pitra Paksha is a 16-day lunar period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or tarpan. Eunuchs pointed out that they have faced problems ever since they were born.
“We all have a troubled life and we just wish that the after life is better and we take rebirth under normal conditions, as normal human beings…This is all what we seek from Baba Vishwanath and Ganga Maiyya,” Shalini, a eunuch who was performing shraddha for her late partner, told IANS. She added that since Kashi was considered a city where everyone attained ‘moksha’ (salvation) she was confident that the voice of the hundreds of her community would be heard. (IANS)