There is no doubt that ISKCON, a.k.a. Hare Krishna Movement, has been one of the most fast spreading organizations of recent times with a global reach. ISKCON has been described by academics as “the most genuinely Hindu of all the many Indian movements in the West”.
International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) centers around the globe conduct Ratha Yatras annually on different dates – Ratha Yatras have been reported even in European and American countries. I happened to be in the neighborhood when the Rath Yatra at Bangalore took place.
Bangalore being a metro the devotee base the ISKCON movement commands is significant. During the Ratha Yatra the ISKCON volunteers did a good job of distributing prasadam to other devotees, by-standers, Metro workers and even people in cars, autos, busses – everyone – in the path of the Ratha Yatra. The Ratha was followed by Akshaya Patra foundation vehicles who appeared to have sponsored the prasadam.
The Ratha, every now and then would stop so the priests on the Ratha could throw sweets to the by-standers. This is a picture of one such moment.
Oh, I forgot to mention this, the Ratha had a retractable dome to facilitate a safe passage through the Bangalore roads without any damage!
The main deities on procession in the Rath Yatra – Lord Krishna and his elder brother Lord Balarama.
ISKCON’s popularity among the westerners may have emerged by limiting Hinduism to monotheism; worship of one God – Krishna, which is more appealing to western populace than the inherent polytheistic nature of Hinduism. As I see it, this organization/movement is not as popular in the rural parts as compared to the urban India. The beliefs and idea that the ‘Hare Krishna Movement’ are simple and noble, and the organization has done much to the community, so there is no harm in adding another variant of belief to the ever absorbing, pantheistic religion of Hinduism!