I was recently in Cape Town for some book distribution in the malls. It was not all it was cut out to be, since the ‘holiday part’ of the trip never happened. And it was what I really wanted. Some of the people I wanted to connect with were either distant or absent. So be it.

I returned, for a meeting where only one person pitched up, then set out to Grahamstown with Bhakta Arne, for the Ratha Yatra that was to be held there. We arrived on the morning of the Ratha Yatra, showered, strolled down to the Village Green to check out the ‘Atma’ food stall and then made our way to the Ratha.

We could hear Vraja Krishna chanting in the distance as we approach Lord Jagannatha’s chariot. It was a nice, fresh morning. I recognized most of the faces in the crowd (a mix of devotees from Cape Town and other parts of the country and locals from Grahamstown and the eastern Cape). To my surprise, Vraja Krishna prabhu thrust the mike into my hand and said, ‘Chant, prabhu!’ I took this as Jagannatha’ mercy and chanted until the Ratha had reached about a third-way up New Street. Since the crowd was small, I pulled the chariot and tried to recruit bystanders into the process too. I saw Vijay Sonne and his family in the crowd, Raman Sonne on the Chariot and Jayanti Naran marshalling the Chariot by the rear wheel. I said to Mrs Naran, ‘Lord Jagannatha has come to your street.’ She just smiled. It was a very sweet procession. Rupa Raghunatha prabhu, from Bloemfontein, carried on with the kirtan for some time; and Vraja finished it off. We also handed out sweets to the kids on both sides of New Street.

I spaced out at Govinda’s, met up with old friends and acquaintances from the Village Green Market, and never ended up going to the Sociology Department where all the action was meant to be. Maybe it was because there weren’t many people there. Maybe it was because I was happy sitting in the sun drinking fresh orange juice and smoothies and nibbling on samoosas. One way or another, it was a nice break.

All glories to Vraja Krishna for organizing the Grahamstown Ratha Yatra. May it grow in the years to come!

Hare Krishna.

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