Lokanatha Swami leads the chanting procession down the streets of Solarpur.
On April 6, Lord Jagannatha’s chariot parade rolled out on the streets of Solapur, Maharastra, India for the first time.
Thousands packed the streets, watching as devotees pulled the ropes of Jagannatha’s cart, waved flags, danced and chanted the Hare Krishna mantra. Solapur’s congregation were joined by devotees from every corner of India including Mumbai, Pune, and Kholapur. The festival also yielded a healthy international turnout from the likes of the U.S., Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, and Russia.
Lokanatha Swami, zonal secretary for ISKCON Maharastra, said, “The event was a grand success – I was especially pleased by the participation of so many devotees. Thousands must have accompanied us from beginning to end, despite the hot sun.”
The procession also featured a brass band, floats depicting stories of Krishna and Rama, and two singing parties. Children, dressed up as monkey companions of Lord Rama and dancing exuberantly, put a smile on the faces of onlookers.
Devotees carried banners, flags, and emblems bearing the insignia of Lord Jagannatha, while colorful powder decorations, known as rangoli, covered the entire Rathayatra route.
A beautiful stage program rounded out the event. Devotional music and singing, traditional Bharat Natyam dance, and talks by Lokanatha Swami and Radha Raman Swami enthralled the audience. The Gaura Hari Band ended the performance in style, belting out the Hare Krishna mantra with a western flavor and bringing the audience to their feet to dance the night away.
The event was heavily covered by the press; fifteen newspapers picked up on the story, featuring color photos and even a front page spread. It was a triumphant victory for all the devotees of Solapur and their guests, who worked so hard to make the festival a grand success.