Ratha Yatra Ireland - Dublin 2011

by Robert Phair

On the 28th of August 2011, the Ratha Yatra procession and festival returned to Dublin for the eighth consecutive year.  This year's event saw some firsts: a new web site (rathayatraireland.com - since renamed to rathayatra.ie) collaborated upon between devotees in the Dublin and Belfast temples, enthusiastic promotion in advance of the event through Facebook and online forums and press, and a magnificent, professionally supported sound system for the parade and park festival.

Ratha Yatra Dublin 2011 Lord Mayor Andrew MontagueProcession

The ceremonies began with the Rath Cart parked just north of the Garden of Remembrance.  After this year's new Lord Mayor Andrew Montague was introduced, he announced that he had attended the Ratha Yatra in 2004 as an assistant to the Mayor and at that time was certain that he would be celebrating the event again someday.  Returning as Lord Mayor himself seven years later, he delighted the devotees present by saying that he was “glad to be of service to Jagannath and Lord Krishna.”

He then joined others in the traditional breaking of coconuts and swept in front of the Cart as it began its downhill journey toward St. Stephen's Green, reaching the park in a safe journey with no hangups and in record time.  The Jagannath deities were then carried into their usual tent overlooking both the stage and the audience, and the festivities began.

Ratha Yatra Dublin 2011 Bhajan BandPark Festival

Beginning at 3pm until just past 6pm, there was a succession of musical acts and a single dramatic performance.  The sounds of the singing and instruments were of unusual quality and projection due to an excellent sound engineer, recruited from Galway by one of our local devotees, who brought enough staff to support our parade and festival stage, and who personally monitored the sound quality for the whole event.

First and last on the stage was Manu and Jayananda's “bhajan band” with typically resounding performances of the Maha-Mantra.  In opening the show, their mandate was to keep playing until the rain which had been edging into our sunny day was replaced again by sunshine... in fact this happened exactly so, with no trouble from rain for the rest of the afternoon.

Other acts were:

  • Sangha Mitra, a semi-classical vocalist performing devotional songs and ethnic versions of the Maha-Mantra, with her backup musicians
  • A specially written dramatic performance, of the pasttime of Krishna and the Gopis and their pearls, by Nandagrama Devi Dasi
  • An exposition by Tulsi Priya of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, for the first-time visitors in our audience

Two tents had been set up which served prasadam, cooked by our local Govinda's restaurant, to several hundred people.  There was time at the end for a spontaneous puja of the deities and Srila Prabhupada, by Caitanya Chandrodaya Dasa from the Belfast temple, during our closing kirtan.

Newcomers were all invited to attend our kirtan, harinam, Sunday Feast, and śastric studies held every week at our Kirtan Centre on Abbey Street.

photos courtesy of Sheel Parida