Barcelona Ratha Yatra

Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 4:45 pm

Jaya Jagannatha, jaya Baladeva, jaya Subhadra!!!


So, mission accomplished, I had a great trip to Barcelona to see Jagannatha. I met the Iskcon devotees at their preaching center and helped them haul prasada and drums to the bus 10 minutes away.

We went to New Vraja Mandala close to Guadalajara where there seems to be a self-sufficient farm the way SP wanted, but we didn't go in. All the devotees from there hopped on and off we went headed to Barcelona singing the Narasimha pranati. Amazingly for me, but maybe things changed in the last ten years, it was a woman singing, but after all there was only one brahmacari on the bus. Oh, and Paramagati maharaja, a disciple of Prabhupada from Rio who is now taking care of Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal and Brazil.

I had made a few photocopies of the Jagannathastaka to sing on the trip, but never gathered the courage to go to the back of the bus to propose it (that's where all the kirtaneers were); also I had decided to keep a low profile.

On the way over I had no passenger next to me, but later on some Bhakta Neil from Israel sat next to me and in the talk GM's name came out. No terrible reaction, but he wasn't that informed either. I told him Tripurari Maharaja was the one who put forward the idea of selling the big books instead of the magazines and roses. He said he had heard that it started with two devotees who had no money to pay for the gas and the pump guy accepted a book instead.

In all this I saw that not only we were not chanting the Jagannathastaka uttered by Mahaprabhu, but the temple president had put on some Warner Bros videotape for the kids to stay quiet. I was so disappointed. When I think of how our GM whips up our mood and consciousness before the ratha yatra. Oh well.....

After hours of bus ride through a draught-stricken central Spain we arrived and went to the temple to shower and change.

The Ratha was very unusual to say the least, but at least it allowed us to tour all around the pedestrian area of Barcelona. It felt like a very long parade, sometimes made even longer by the fact that the streets were really narrow yet in front of the kirtan and the ratha (neither very easy to maneuver once they start) there was either an indian man strolling quietly in the middle of the ropes or maharaja chatting with someone as if nothing went on behind him. At one point a friend who lives in Barcelona told me: "We are passing under the bridge of wishes," incidentally I was just next to the chariot so I strongly desired to get this job once and for all.

Needless to say that on Monday, in spite of the inauspicious solar eclipse that had just started, I got a call from the agent saying that they chose me, although I'll start in November. So tomorrow I am going to see my family in Milan for one week and soon I will be also able to maintain Audarya to my capacities :D

After the parade was over everthing turned really cheesy in the name of preaching. Same old indian dance, drama, talk, but everything presented in a way that was so out of touch with the audience that it looked as if they had just read a manual on how to deal with karmis and mlecchas.

The way back was actually even better.

I decided to sit in the back this time and the devote who had the mrdanga sat right next to me. He had been some 3 or 4 years in the movement, I found out later, and he turned to me all of a sudden asking me how I liked the festival as I was a new face. He started preaching mildly to me and I would respond and agree with his points, making more points, some of them I am sure he had probably never even heard of, or not in that light. He didn't seem surprised though, nor was there any competition of who knows the most or has the most amazing realizations. Just two aspiring Vaisnavas kicking back and engaging their intelligence and tongues in sankirtana. It went on for hours. I talked about sacrifice the way it's analyzed in the Siksastakam, Sridhara maharaja and SP in Bombay, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's western toilet, my GM's keyboard, the Brahma gayatri being about Radha-dasya, the sankirtana of mahaprabhu being non-different from the rasa-lila; he was filling in in his own turn. We barely even interrupted each other. It was so sweet. At one point he mentioned how we dress the deities for their pleasure, but sometime it really looks that Krsna is making himself beautiful to please our eyes, same goes with us dancing in the temple room and him dancing for us.

I remembered Srila bhaktivinoda and his words (vamsi-vadana suvasa, vrndavana nata-bara) and we naturally started to sing Yasomatinandana while all the devotees were more or less snoozing.

We went on and I chanted Jaya Radha-Madhava like Agni does on Radhastami, only it was hard to remember that in Iskcon they sing the whole mahamantra at once, so i had some awkward moments...

We just kept chanting and every once in a while some heads would turn around to see who was chanting. I thought they were mad at me because the night before we (me included) slept at most 2 hours, on the floor of the restaurant, next to the temple room, but during the lunch stop many congratulated me. I thought it was just great that people were appreciating me for my service attitude, katha, and kirtan without even knowing who my Gm was, so that once the name comes up they won't be able to get offuscated by their prejudice.

When we dropped most of the devotees at New Vraja Mandala the driver allowed us 5 minutes to go to the bathroom while people take their bags, and the temple president specified "But not to go take the darshan."

Yeah right, as soon as the bus stopped I ran up the hill to have darsana with Radha-Govindacandra and Gaura-Nitai....

Ok here are the pics of all this.





Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 4:56 pm

Plaza Colon where tha parade started


Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 4:58 pm

Their Lordships eager to start.


Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:00 pm

maharaja and the pujari offer arati


Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:29 pm

Yaja Jagannatha!



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:32 pm

Here the flash makes it seem as if I was posing against a backdrop but I swear i was there!


Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:35 pm

Devotees dancing



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:40 pm

The Lord of the Universe becoming small and bestowing his mercy down to the smallest lanes.



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:42 pm

Toward the end



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:47 pm

pic 1) The jagannatha deities are not installed so the day after they went back to sleep.


pic 2) And this is Vanamali dasa who engaged me in Harikatha



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:51 pm

Spain everyone



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:54 pm

More desert and rsabharupa, the national symbol, but alas not for dharma, but for bull fighting :(



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 5:57 pm

And finally Gaura Nitai and Radha Govindacandra from Guadalajara.



Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 6:32 pm

I forgot two more nice pics of Gaura Nitai from Barcelona. It took me 12 years to see that silver mrdanga again.


Syamasundara - October 6, 2005 6:34 pm
I forgot two more nice pics of Gaura Nitai from Barcelona. It took me 12 years to see that silver mrdanga again.