Miracle in Puerto Rico!

By Abhimanyu Das - 12.1 2018

It is a miracle that this Rathayatra in San Juan on December 30th still happened this year after Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the island of Puerto Rico. New Govardhana, the only Radha-Krsna temple in the Caribbean, had part of the roof of the main temple ripped off and debris was scattered all over the property. For some time, the devotees didn’t even have running water, and they still don’t have electricity. Despite all of these hardships, the dedicated New Govardhana community headed by Arisudana Prabhu has maintained the service of their Lordships Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri-Sri Krsna-Balarama, Sri-Sri Prahlada-Nrsmhadeva, Sri Giri-Govardhana, and Sri-Sri Radha-Syamasundara. This was the fourth annual Ratha Yatra in Puerto Rico.

By Lord Jagannatha’s desire, his chariot was undamaged by the hurricane, so the devotees were originally planning on performing a small Rathayatra around the temple. With Manorama bringing nearly twenty of us youth to help and Bhadra Prabhu and Jayasita Devi Dasi arranging for the permits to perform a Rathayatra in old San Juan, the New Govardhana community pulled together with a beautiful spirit of cooperation to decorate the cart and organize an ecstatic Rathayatra festival in one of the markets in Old San Juan. Their Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra Maharani were brought onto their carts while the devotees performed kirtan. Bhadra Prabhu explained to us that they had gotten the permits only two days before the start of the parade and encouraged all of the devotees to participate fully in the kirtan for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha.

Lord Jagannatha then went on procession with all of us doing ecstatic kirtan. many people from the city joined us in chanting and dancing for Lord Jagannatha as Bhadra Prabhu pulled them in between the ropes into the center of the kirtan. While this was going on, there was a prasadam feast being distributed to the public which was prepared by the New Govardhana community after countless hours of cooking day and night. Prasadam distribution was a main focus of this year’s festival.

I was part of Manorama and Jai Sri Radhe’s youth mission trip to Puerto Rico, so I had the fortune of witnessing and being a small part of the cooperative effort of devotees from all over North America to serve the devotees in Puerto Rico who have maintained high spirits in their service to Srila Prabhupada despite all of the challenges they have faced in the past few months. This Rathayatra was a beautiful finale for this mission trip, and I believe that this collaborative effort of devotees from various states, provinces of Canada, and various parts of Puerto Rico is a perfect example of the kind of cooperation that Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur asked of their followers.