It was the cloudy morning of 16th of June, when the natives of Nairobi, Kenya, stood speechless and in awe at the marvellous sight of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra being pulled by thousands of devotees in His opulent chariot, from KICC Grounds to ISKCON Nairobi temple.
On the eve of 15th of June, young devotees of ISKCON Nairobi inaugurated the gala Chariot festival with dances, dramas and enlivening kirtans. The magnificent event was blessed by Bhakti Brhat Bhagavat Swami and Prabodananda Saraswati Swami. On the same eve all the guest devotees reached Nairobi from all over East Africa. They were all welcomed cordially by the ISKCON East African Secretary and ISKCON Nairobi temple President, Umapati Das.
Lord Jagannath’s Chariot dazzled elegantly on the 16th, in the presence of political leaders and other well-reputed personalities from all around East Africa. The prominent panel of guests included Nairobi County Speaker Honorable Alex Ole Maselo, Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal, Honorable representative of the Governor Ms. Mercy, business tycoon Mr. Narendra Rawal, Nairobi Hindu Council Chairperson Swanan Vasma, Kenyan Presidential candidate Krishna Balaram Das, Charles Owang, John Osogo and Honorable Jaffer. While devotee guest panel included Bhakti Brhat Bhagavat Swami Maharaj, Prabodananda Saraswati Swami Maharaj, Sumukha Das, Nitai Priya Das, Shitalanga Das and Sevatulya Das, ISKCON temple presidents of Mombasa, Kisumu, Mwingi, Mathare, Malawi, Arusha and thousands of other devotees.
Jagannath’s chariots majestically moves along the parade route
All of the East African political leaders promised to support ISKCON Food for Life program and would like to directly connect the National Free Education schemes to this program.
After some enlivening words from the guests, the offerings of light and flowers to the Lord began. Devotees and the chief guests together did the venerations. The background was being purified by the echoing prayers of Lord Jagannath, by Shitalanga das and Sevatulya Das. This was soon followed by the sweeping ceremony, whereby Nairobi County speaker along with senior devotees swept the road for Lord Jagannath’s Chariot.
Ecstatic kirtan on the streets of Nairobi
Like in the past three years, this year, too, there were two sets of Chariots; one set exclusively for the children, and the other one for the adults. With pomp, fervour and enthusiasm Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra rolled in the Chariot amidst thousands of devotees.
All the devotees were extremely energized, chanting and dancing, rejoicing with the natives and the other fellow devotees. A group of young devotees were distributing prasad, books, sweets and water to the crowd around who were struggling to get a glimpse of the majestic chariot.
Young devotees were interviewed by the local news channels.
The children’s chariot
The procession seemed like hundreds of rainbows have descended on the Earth with the chariot being the epicentre. It was an absolute treat for material eyes. Nitai Priya Das made all the devotees sway and dance with his nectarian enchanting Hare Krishna tunes, for almost the whole way.
Lord Jagannath showered His mercy upon everybody among exuberant chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra.
The chariot glided gallantly, and within four hours covered almost the whole city before it reached ISKCON Nairobi temple.
The devotees reached the temple before the chariot and were earnestly waiting for the Lord. With the arrival of Their Lordships at the temple the devotees grabbed on to prasadam. Kirtan continued while rejuvenated devotees roared and honoured prasadam and spread out on the floor and the chairs.
The ISKCON East African Management worked together and embellished the services so perfectly that the festivities turned out to be like a sublime and divine bouquet of exquisite ambrosial flowers.
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