On January 7th, 2024, we celebrated Ratha Yatra during the Mango Strut Parade, which has been a local happening during the last 40 years. Devotees used to chant during the parade, but there was never a Ratha Yatra until last year.
Even thousands of miles away from Jagannath Puri, Coconut Grove, where the parade is held, is a small village in Miami close to the ocean, surrounded by banyan trees, coconut, and mango trees. The village is special because Srila Prabhupada graced this place with his visits and devotees have been around there for the last 50 years. Srila Prabhupada used to drink the coconut water and enjoy the warm weather, mentioning “This is just like India” in 1975. The parade comes close to Peacock Park, a place where the legendary devotees His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami and Visnujana Swami use to feed kichadi to the hippies. People they are very friendly with devotees in one very posh area of Miami.
The parade is a great opportunity to serve the desire of Srila Prabhupada, who wanted Ratha Yatra in every town and village. Thousands of souls get the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and his disciples and for the devotees it is a great day to get absorbed in devotional service by chanting the holy name and fulfilling the mercy of Lord Chaitanya. As we enter the parade thousands of Americans watch the chariot of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subadra, and is a joyful day, as the temple and the deities have come to give them real happiness (eternal happiness) The people smile, and shouts Hare Krishna, the Master of Ceremonies introduces us with “Here are the Hare Krishna’s” and the people respond with Hare Krishna. Joana and Joe, who have been living in Coconut Grove for 10 years told us: “Hare Krishna, thank you for coming to share with us. We have seen you here chanting on the streets, but your big float today is one of the parade’s favorites”.
It is a blessed day, a relief from so many struggles and calamities. The Ratha moves with elegance through the route and the dancing, and the sound of the Maha Mantra expose thousands to the Darshan of the Lord of the Universe. Our participation in the parade was featured in several news covers of the main event, TV programs such as Deco Drive in the local channel 7, YouTube blogs, newspapers and other media showed pictures of the float and devotees chanting and dancing.
We also held a Kirtan Mela on Saturday, January 6th for two hours at a Yoga Center (Inhale Yoga) on which about 100 enthusiastic devotees participate. This year we hosted kirtaniyas like Laxmi Narasimha prabhu (direct disciple of Srila Prabhupada), Bhakta Justin Willings, a finalist at American Idol, as well as participants from the well-known Festival of the Holy Name. Other kirtana performers were Ram Das Yogi,
Second Kirtan Mela was held on Sunday 7th the same venue as last year’s, where about 150 American yogis along with a similar number of devotees attended. This year we hosted kirtaniyas like Kishor from the Mayapuris, Kishor Gopal and Dawn the leader singer for Hahana Yoga which was attended by 200 Americans who practice Yoga and like Krishna Consciousness