ISKCON’s annual Rath Yatra at Chennai
The annual Rath yatra of ISKCON at Chennai that draws heavy crowd of devotees and viewers is taking place in the city around this time of the year. The Ratha yatra starts in front of Sri Kapali temple at Mylapore and ends at Chetput, covering a distance of some 7 km. The main Ratha, similar in shape but smaller in size to that of Puri Sri Jaganath’s, carrying the idols of Sri Krishna, Sri Balabadhra and Sri Subdhra proceeds amidst the chanting of the mantra, ‘Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare hare; Hare Krishan Hare Krishna Krishn, Krishna Hare Hare. It is like being at Bhuvaneswar, Orissa and witnessing the world famous Sri Jaganath’s Ratha yatra in a smaller scale.
The Ratha is some 20 feet tall with a tower of saffron colored cloth on a base with wheels, similar to any other temple car. There is another small Ratha for the child Sri Krishna in sitting posture with bewitching beauty that is also taken along the procession.
You may wonder how this marathon Rath yatra is possible covering such a long distance with trees and criss-crossing TV cables running across most of the busy streets in Chennai. It is here the construction of the Ratha differs from that of the traditional one. Actually, the cloth dome of the big Ratha is collapsible and retracts like a foldable umbrella to pass through the vertical obstacles on the way. The collapsible dome of the Ratha is operated by inbuilt pneumatic cylinders and levers. This Ratha can be maneuvered through most of the streets in the city where a truck can pass through. In my view, this is the only Ratha in the country that combines the religious and technical fields together and is the first of its kind.
The Ratha yatra besides meeting the spiritual needs of the society, also conveys a message – to attain one’s goal in life, one has to adopt oneself to the changing circumstances with time and to find new ways and means, if necessary, to face the challenges successfully.
Think differently is the solution.