With the latest news from Australia, reporting from the scene, we have Michael.
After being delighted by a breakfast consisting of toasted bread; throat-soothing ginger, lemon and cinnamon teas; and some of the finest pumpkin & basil soup that at least I’ve ever tasted, HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, HG Sakhi Raya das, HG Rasa Vilasa das and his wife Janaki from the Govindia family, and I headed for Brisbane’s equivalent of London’s Oxford Circus; the Brisbane City Centre.
After what felt no longer than a thirty minute drive, we found ourselves in a pleasant square called King George Square, with its perimeter surrounded by devotees preparing various tents for the celebrations later that day. Some of the titles of these tents, which were designed to attract and inform members of the Brisbane public about Krishna consciousness, included Ask a Swami, Hare Krishna Food, Matchless Gifts and Gita Cards.
After a look around, inclusive of the usual meetings and greetings, Sakhi Raya Prabhu lead Maharaja to the spot where we were going to commence with the festival: Queen Park. After turning a few corners and crossing a few semi-busy roads, something on the ground caught my attention. I heard Maharaja say, “There!” and when I looked up I quickly realised that Maharaja, who is as sharp as ever, had spotted in the distance the red, white and yellow decorated cart of magnificence!
In my excitement, I was almost jumping to the prospect of hearing Kadamba Kanana Maharaja’s and other esteemed guests lead kirtan. Kirtan hadn’t even begun yet!
As we closed in toward the cart, we paid our obeisances to Prabhupada who was seated at the front base of the cart, with his ceremonial, regal appearance, and the mighty powerful, mighty-weighted Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra were being heaved onto the cart by the collective cooperation of the devotees present.
HG Hari Sauri das seemingly mystically appeared to Maharaja’s right just underneath a type of bus shelter and they greeted each other with grand smiles. Another person who greeted Maharaja with a grand smile was a representative from AK Media TV & Film. He requested Maharaja to speak a little about the significance of Ratha Yatra. My unedited recording of the video interview will be available soon but here are two photos.
Soon after, everything was set! Jagannatha, Baladeva, Subhadra were in their rightful place; mic checks complete; stereo system situated; ropes strung; eager devotees ready; water bottles distributed; cameras recording; Mayapur.tv live; traffic blocked; police siren lights on; and Maharaja, “nama om vishnu padaya…” We were rolling in both the colloquial and literal sense of the term!
Gradually, we traversed the city centre of Brisbane, with crowds of people gathering constantly – some were watching from their balconies; some were walking alongside us; some were even getting their dancing hats on. The Brisbane Ratha Yatra was graced with esteemed seniors, HH Mukunda Goswami and HH Ramai Swami who undoubtedly gave an extra spiritual punch to the event. The members of the public did not know what they were in for. We had at least four mrdanga specialists playing in great harmony, with accompanying wompas, karatals, accordions and saxophone.
Maharaja led the first kirtan and it was supernaturally lively a.k.a. he ‘rocked it’. The transcendental pied-piper was at it again and he could not be stopped! The sun was beating down on us; I was told this place is in winter season! The deities of London weather need to take note!
After a good period of time, Maharaja handed over to Sri Prahlad, who did a great job reigniting the kirtan after a swift microphone changeover. He took us around some other busy parts of Brisbane and concluded the movements of ‘the rolling chariot of love’ in a funky style, back where the various tents and the Main Stage was.
The afternoon ensued with various performances of singing, dancing and acting. Maharaja was invited three times to the Main Stage: once for an opening ceremony speech; another for his own personal address for Ratha Yatra; and a third for a concluding kirtan. The last two are available here as well as the post harinama Nrshimdev prayers:
It was such an amazing event, and I am sure the hundreds of devotees share this sentiment when I say I was ready for a round two, there and then!
Michael is from the UK and will be travelling with Kadamba Kanana Swami around Australia. You may follow him on Facebook for his daily updates. Here is the link to his page!
Here are two more recordings from Sunday.