Ratha Yatra at Saranagati
BY: SUN STAFF
Jul 5, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA (SUN) July 2nd Ratha Yatra.
The Ratha Yatra at Saranagati rolled forward this year under bright blue skies and a rippling heat reminiscent of Mother India, herself. One devotee reported that as she drove through the main gates upon arrival at Saranagati, the thermometer read 108 degrees.
The Saranagati community in Venables Valley, British Columbia is home to more than 75 devotees, and hosts an endless stream of visitors from around the world. Situated on a total of 3,300 acres of privately held devotee-owned land, many Vaishnava families have been homesteaded here for nearly 25 years.
The yearly Ratha Yatra festival has been underway since early on in Saranagati's history. Each year, the devotees create a wonderful arrangement for the Ratha, outfitting the carts, arranging a beautiful pavilion for the festival, and preparing great quantities of first-class prasadam.
Saranagati enjoys a long-time reciprocal relationship with the devotees of ISKCON Vancouver, as members of both communities travel to attend one another's Ratha Yatra festivals. The Saranagati Ratha Yatra bus trip has become a favorite event for the city devotees, who climb on board for the four-hour trip north to join the Saranagati Ratha each year. This year, so many devotees wanted to attend that a second bus was rented for the day-trip.
At the Saranagati end, there was a great deal of anticipation as local devotees awaited the arrival of the buses. At 11:30 a.m., we began to gather at the starting point of the Ratha parade. Rousing kirtans went on as Their Lordships Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra arrived and were placed onto the cart. Standing at the ready was a smaller cart pulled by Gopal the bull, who transported Srila Prabhupada under shady garlands of pine boughs as he led the procession.
As the temperature and ecstatic pitch of the kirtan both rose, happy shouts went up as the Vancouver buses came into view. All the devotees spilled off with great 'Haribols!', and the Ratha Yatra began moving immediately.
The Ratha route at Saranagati is an exceptionally beautiful one, with endless panoramic views of the surrounding hills and high desert landscapes. Birds, cows, dogs, horses and children all raced by as the chariot wound its way around gravel roads and down to the lakeside pavilion.
The pavilion was beautifully decorated and garlanded, with strands of lights twinkling out of the local blooms. Purple clothes were draped around the Deity altar and stage, and the mood was surely 'Vrindavan'.
A great procession of entertainers led bhajans, Guru puja arotik and kirtan, and a host of interesting and alternative music, from Krsna-inspired folk to rap. The talented youth of Saranagati danced, and a tremendously wonderful play was put on by the Vancouver devotees, who portrayed Lord Jagannatha saving the passengers of a sinking ship.
The hospitality of Saranagati devotees is second to none, and attending the Ratha Yatra here is an experience all devotees around the world should try to enjoy. The efforts of the Saranagati devotees that have resulted in this community have been steadily fueled by their common vision and desire to establish a preaching mission that would exemplify the instructions of our Spiritual Master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
Literally translated, "Saranagati" is "a mood of devotion to God". The term implies a prevailing desire to nurture and understand the spiritual side of our nature. Inherent in the mood of Saranagati is the principle that all activities of work, education and play, in addition to enriching mind, body and intellect, should also nourish the spirit. Saranagati is built on inspiration and inspiration is built on inspiring works. Therefore, the Saranagati community has strived to foster such inspiration by integrating the timeless culture of Bhakti Yoga with modern sustainable living practices.
Opportunities go on year-round at Saranagati for devotees who wish to visit, relax and get immersed in the Bhakti mood, and contribute their time and talents to increase the local operations and facilities for future generations.
Please visit the Saranagati website at: http://www.venablesvalley.com.