Last Friday we headed off to New Orleans for the annual Ratha Yatra festival. New Orleans held a Ratha Yatra over thirty years ago but many years passed without one. In 2009, they held their first Rath and each year since they have managed to make it bigger and better. Last year they hired Anup Jalota to sing bhajans at the park but I missed it because I was away in India( don't get me wrong, I would give my kidney for another six-month stay in India) This year, has been the best Ratha yatra so far, the stage events were held at Washington Square park and plenty of people stopped by to visit the booths, take prasadam and just watch the show. Titiksha Karuna and his rock band performed on the stage along with an Indian bhajan group consisting of world famous artists. I wish I could visit New Orleans more often as I have so many god-brothers and friends living there and the laid-back environment of New Orleans seeped in jazz and blues culture make a perfect city for me. Anyhow, I tried to take photos of the Ratha Yatra, as many notable Prabhupada disciples were there including a couple Maharajs and you can view them here.
I really love Sri Sri Radha Radhakanta, They're probably the most striking deities in North America; when you take darshan it's very significant and stunning because They're so impeccably dressed and served by Their devotees, it's easy to realise that Sri Radhe and Krishna are really present in Their deity forms.
For some reason, I feel a deeper connection with these Deities and New Orleans temple than I do with my own 'home' temple and 'training' temple, even though I have spent my entire life here and my most spiritually memorable ones in Columbus. Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji and Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Natabar are my life but somehow, I can not shake this feeling that my connection with Sri Sri Radha Radhakanta transcends this present body or that I know Sri Sri Radha Radhakanta from a previous lifetime. I can't explain it rationally but I know that They are my worship-able Lords. I pray that I always remember Them even in times of crisis.
Right now my living and kitchen are being consumed by the all-devouring odor of latex paint but it's alright because Shyam kunda prabhu will get a mini-makeover in his room; I'm thinking about painting my bedroom a different color but every time I decide on a color, I realise its not possible because my husband sleeps during the daytime. The other day I was at the store looking at potato chips when I realised something really shocking, we eat foods that are high acidic and corrosive to our teeth. For example, I use vinegar and sea salt to clean and polish metals like copper pots and Deity paraphernalia, silver jewelry and cups, stainless steel bathroom fixtures and kitchen sink. Everything, including the kitchen sink. The other day, I wanted to wear my silver anklets but they looked a little drab and listless so I soaked them in the sink with warm water, salt and vinegar for a couple hours. When I came back, they were shining like new with no scrubbing involved and I was really pleased; I didn't get to wear them anyway because they were catching on my socks and shoes. But, just think about it, if sea salt and vinegar can clean tarnish off metals imagine what it can do to our insides! Needless to say, I will be laying off the sea salt and vinegar potato chips for a while.