Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Lord of the Universe Rolls Through the Windy City as Chicago Celebrates its Rath Yatra
By Uttamasloka Das   |  Jun 24, 2024

Photos courtesy of Arjun Patel.

Once again, The Lord of the Universe, Lord Jagannath, along with His brother Baladeva and Sister Subhadra, have decided to enact Their Rath Yatra pastime on the streets of Chicago, Illinois. This year, the parade and festival took place on June 16th (Father’s Day), beginning just one block north of the prestigious Loyola University, and the ensuing festival took place at Loyola Beach Park, just under a mile from where Their Lordships preside with Sri Sri Kisora Kisora and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.

Over 3,000 people attended the parade and festival, including special guests Candramauli Swami, Jagad Purusha Das, Madhava Das, and delegates from the local Hanuman temple. The crowd was a healthy mix of devotees from Chicago, Chicago’s sister temple in Naperville, and surrounding cities such as Indianapolis, Champaign-Urbana, Milwaukee, and the Chicago Suburbs. The first Rath Yatra was held in Chicago over four decades ago, in 1974. Since then, the procession has happened in several other locations, including suburbs such as Skokie.

Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram, and Lady Subhadra have resided in Chicago since 1970, previously being in Detroit. They were the first deities of ISKCON Chicago, standing on the altar in a small preaching center before moving to a temple in Evanston and finally arriving at Their current home in Rogers Park in 1980.

Following the festival procession, crowds gathered at  Loyola Beach Park, where devotees distributed hundreds of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and a Matchless Gifts tent sold devotional items. Additionally, 1,000 plates of free prasadam were distributed, along with 1,300 plates of other prasadam from different vendors. Throngs of blissful devotees and interested onlookers chanted Krishna’s Holy Names and danced in bliss to several hours of kirtan. Candramauli Swami lectured, and a traditional-style devotional dance was performed.

The devotees have considered this year’s festival a success, and planning has already begun for next year’s Festival of Chariots. To follow the inspiring service of the ISKCON Chicago community, please visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.