ISKCON plans world's first virtual Rath Yatra across 6 continents amid Covid-19...

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The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), with its headquarters in West Bengal, would be organizing the world’s first digital Rath Yatra that would cover six continents during the Covd-19 pandemic on June 23.

This comes at a time when the iconic Rath Yatra at Puri in Odisha has been halted by the Supreme Court because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Puri Rath Yatra was last held up nearly three centuries ago when Mohammed Taqi Khan, deputy governor of Odisha, attacked the Jagannath temple, forcing the shifting of the idols to Ganjam district.

“This would be the world’s first digital Rath Yatra which would cover six continents in 24 hours on June 23 and June 24. It would be named ‘Mercy in Wheels’. There would be 108 rathas,” said Subrata Das, communication officer of ISKCON’s headquarters at Mayapur in south Bengal.

Also read: Chief servitor of Lord Jagannatha asks SC to allow Puri Ratha Yatra without public participation

The ISKCON Rath Yatra was started by the organization’s founder Srila Prabhupad in San Francisco in 1967.

“Being a year of pandemic, devotees won’t be able to go out on the streets and celebrate the festival on a grand scale. Hence the idea was conceived so that Lord Jagannath with Baladev and Subhadra would visit the house of devotees across the world,” said Jayapataka Swami, who conceived the idea of digital Rath Yatra.

One has to register for free to become a ‘yajaman’ and receive a code and a link with a scheduled slot with details of the coordinator. Each rath would be pulled by one leader from ISKCON.

“On June 23, celebrations will start at Mayapur and could be seen on social networking sites. The rathas would then roll out at around 10 am in 108 directions. The devotee, who has the code, will be able to offer the arti and bhog at the slot allotted to him. The rath would then move to the next yajaman. This will continue till 7:30 am till the next day,” said the spokesman.

ISKCON authorities are expecting around 30,000 families to participate in the digital Rath Yatra.

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