My house is less than a kilometer away from ISKCON in Bangalore and I have never been inside the temple, yet. In my defense, I admit that I’m not a regular temple visiting person, but when I do it’s those temples of the antique variety which attract me.
In our land of many faiths (and even more gods), it’s commendable that ISKCON has stamped its presence through various philanthropic activities (impact of which is obviously not known), and of its many activities the annual ISKCON ratha yatra is one of the famous ones. ‘RATHA’ is like a chariot (only bigger) which is generally pulled by large groups of people with the help of two ropes attached to it. The ‘ratha’ is used to display the temple idols, in this case Lord Krishna and Balarama (Krishna’s elder brother).
As the Ratha moves, moved only by the sheer muscle power of Krishna’s devotees – who have their own scores to settle with themselves or their god – the by-standers throng all sides of the ratha to receive ‘prasada’. The ‘prasada’ is a coconut barfi wrapped in a paper cover. This is when things start become mildly amusing – the ‘prasada’ is disbursed by the holy people seated on the ratha by throwing the same towards the mass of people, who in turn practice their barfi catching skills.
The retractable gopura of the ISKCON ratha in action. The ISKCON ratha is rather light as the top half is made of a plumbing framework with a cloth covering. The ratha lighting is provided for by a mobile generator which is seen to be trailing the ratha.