The procession culminated near the stage tent, where local devotees were explaining the pastime of Lord Jagannatha’s parade to the crowds. Books and pamphlets were distributed at the nearby tables. Visitors were encouraged to accept a plate of free, sanctified vegetarian food at the prasadam tent just a few feet away and take a seat to enjoy the entertainment. Ganga Sheth, renowned Odissi dancer, performed a dance to the bhajan by Vasudeva Ghosh, describing Lord Gauranga as non-different from Krishna, who is non-different from Jagannatha. She also danced to an original song written by Mike Ferrera, who performed alongside the Mayapuris.
Local San Juan devotees performed a play to illustrate basic philosophical tenets of Krishna consciousness. A final kirtan, led by Mayapuris, included local musicians and dancers onstage, culminating joyously with the applause of the crowd. ISKCON Governing Commissioner Virabahu Das was present to greet visitors and answer questions, as well as offer appreciation to the organizers who worked so diligently to put on the festival, including Bhadra Das and Jaya Sita dasi.
Puerto Rico is certainly primed for sharing Krishna-consciousness. The cultural diversity, receptivity and natural inclination toward religiosity found here, as in many Latin American countries, provides an ideal environment to share our processes of devotional service. Any and all who are inclined to experience Ratha Yatra in this tropical paradise are encouraged to reach out and find a service for this year’s festival.
Puerto Rico Ratha Yatra is set to take place again between Christmas and New Year at the end of 2017. For information on this coming year’s Ratha-yatra in Puerto Rico and those in North and Central Florida, please visit Bhadra Das’s web site: www.festivalofchariots.org.