Blog text and images submitted by Radha Madhava dasa and Prahlada dasa
On Thursday June 5, early in the morning we started setting up. 9:00am the tent frames were all assembled, so we took a short break to honor the wonderful Prasadam provided by the Atlanta Temple. After honoring the Transcendental Krishna Prasadam, we resumed our devotional service. By 6:00pm We stood up all the tents. Being on a newly landscaped city park that had strict regulations, one of which was no tent stakes, we had to use water barrels to anchor the tents.
Finally the crew assembled the stage. After a strenuous day of hard work we continued serving The Lord by preforming Hare Krishna kirtans, cleaning the temple room, helping in the kitchen, etc.
Friday: 10:30am We started to set up the panel exhibits throughout the site. The sound system under the main tent was also set up.
1:00pm We took a short break to honor the sumptuous Krishna Prasadam lunch.
2:00pm We resumed set up and put the final touches on the festival.
After we finished, Thousands of devotees from around the world started arriving at New Panihati Dhama for the festival's Adivas ceremony (opening ceremony). Festivities began with a tumultuous Hare Krishna kirtan! Then The devotees carried Their lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada in a ceremonial procession from the temple to the park across the street where the festival will be held.
During the procession devotees performed ecstatic Hare Krishna Kirtan for the pleasure of Their Lordships! When the procession arrived at the festival site the devotees brought their Lordships and His Divine Grace and placed them on a beautiful altar on the festival stage. H.H. Jayapataka Swami gave a short inspiring lecture and then ISKCON Atlantas temple president H.G. Vedasara prabhu performed a grand arotika. They offered 32 auspicious items including pure gold for the pleasure of Their lordships. Afterwards the devotees spent the rest of the night performing bhajan and Hare Krishna kirtana. Yuga Dharma Harinama Sankirtana Ki Jaya
10:00am Thousands of Devotees started to gather to leave for the Ratha-yatra site in downtown Atlanta. The Ratha-yatra cart, which Dharmaraj Prabhu and his son Nitai Pran Prabhu brought all the way from New Raman Reti Dhama, was beautifully decorated and it looked amazing. At around 11:00am Their lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha Baladeva and Lady Subhadra Arrived! 11:30 the parade started! Devotees immediately started performing Hare Krishna kirtana, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra with great enthusiasm!
The parade went right through the huge skyscraper buildings in crowded downtown Atlanta. Thousands of bystanders were amazed by the wonderful Jagannatha Ratha-yatra procession! Many people weren't expecting to see such an amazing sight but upon hearing the ecstatic chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, seeing the Lord's beautiful smile and all the wonderful devotees, their hearts were immediately captured! Many people joined the procession and chanted, danced, and clapped in ecstasy!
1:00pm the deities were brought back to the temple and we began to take down the Ratha-yatra cart.
3:00pm Things were beginning to start at the festival site. Many artists from different cultures came to perform on the festival stage. Chinese dancers entertained the audience with their unique dance style and African dummers got the crowd going with their thumping beats! To end the stage program the devotees performed kirtana and bhajans.
8:00pm H.H. Jayapataka Swami conducted an initiation ceremony. One of our men on Festival of India's crew, Krishna Prema dasa, received first initiation in this auspicious ceremony! He received the spiritual name Krishna Prema Palavan dasa! After and busy but, completely ecstatic day we took rest.
4:30 am many devotees attended mangal arotika and the full morning program
10:00am We had a football (soccer) tournament in the park. It was the devotees on our Festival of India crew versus the local devotees in Atlanta. Festival of India won. It wasn't any surprise, as all the men on the crew are the very best, and also the most humble.
11:00pm Senior Prabhupada disciples talked about Srila Prabhupada and the journey of how the wonderful Panihati Festival evolved into the amazing festival that it is today.
12:00pm H.G. Vedasara prabhu led an ecstatic Kirtan loudly chanting the Hare Krishna mantra,
then, H.G. Bhadra Prabhu (the organizer of 7 major Ratha-yatra festivals in Florida) took over!
Even though the temple was very hot, everyone in the temple room was airborne everyone was jumping up and down with their hands in the air in complete bliss! During this ecstatic kirtan, pujaris offered hundreds of beautifully decorated painted pots of the famous chipped rice and dahi to the Deities. The pots were filled with yogurt and rice and there were many varieties of flavors, such as sweet, salty, Italian; Mexican; South Indian etc.
2:00pm The pots of chip rice Krishna Prasadam were distributed to all the devotees and everyone ate to their hearts content, and more and more! Sri Krishna Maha-Prasadam Ki Jaya, Hare Krishna!
6:00pm We began take down the festival site.
11:00pm We finished packing everything into the truck.
Everyone on the crew showered and most of us managed to take some Pasta Krishna Prasadam that Vedasara Prabhu personally cooked for the crew, before midnight. The next day, Monday was Pandava Nirjal Ekadasi. Hare Krishna.
We would like to thanks the devotees of ISKCON Atlanta for holding such a wonderful festival and for taking such good care of us. We would especially like to thank Mother Mahaguna devi dasi for her expert guidance and for making sure every aspect of the festival ran smoothly. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Ys Radha Madhava dasa
Ys Bhakta Prahlada