On behalf of ISKCON Atlanta, we would like to invite all the devotees to attend this year’s Festival of Chariots and Panihati Festival at New Panihati Dham. The Festival will be held June 3rd June 4th, and June 5th. 2016 is a big significant year for our temple. It is the 42th Anniversary of the Installation of Gour Nitai deities in Atlanta. Srila Prabhupada called ISKCON Atlanta as “New Panihati Dham”. This is a momentous occasion and we would love to have the honor of all of your presence here to celebrate this grand occasion. We are honoring this occassion by putting on a festival in a larger scale with Ratha Yatra in Downtown Atlanta, and the Festival at a Public Park so we can reach out to all the conditioned souls who will have the great opportunity to see Their Lordships Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Mayi. Festival details are as follows:
Location: Springdale Park (Across the street from our main temple at 1287 S. Ponce De Leon Ave)
June 3rd: 6:00 pm. Adivas Ceremony. Procession of Gaura Nitai Deities to the Park, opening ceremony, wonderful Kirtan followed by Prasad
June 4th: 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Ratha Yatra in Downtown Atlanta near Centennial Park…
3:00 pm. to 9:30 pm. – Festival Site Events at Springdale Park
June 5th: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. – Panihati Festival
More info at www.festivalofchariotsatl.com.
Panihati Festival History in Atlanta
Srila Prabhupada named the Atlanta temple New Panihati Dhama in 1975. Perhaps it was because we were blessed to have installed the most magnificent and magnanimous Deities in the universe, Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Or maybe, it was because in our humble beginnings, chipped rice and yogurt, the main ingredients in the preparations of the Panihati Festival pots, was a common sight on our plates!
Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai were first installed in 1973 at the previous temple in Midtown, 23 13th Street. By the end of 1974, we moved to 1287 S. Ponce de Leon, where the temple currently stands. In 1975, Srila Prabhupada blessed us with a visit. Along with the nectar of his instructions, he told us the story of Lord Nityananda’s pastime in Panihati Dhama, a small but great village in India.
This inspired Balavanta Prabhu, the temple president at that time, to travel to Panihati Dhama with some of the Atlanta devotees. This was our first celebration of the Panihati Festival, right there, under the very same tree where Lord Nityananda started it all. We all felt very fortunate to be there. We had kirtana, then Balavanta Prabhu read from the Caitanya Caritamrita. In the end, we distributed some of the prasadam to the local residents. The area was full of children, and at first they were playing around us very noisily. Being very absorbed in the ecstatic mood of Lord Nityananda, we didn’t pay much attention to them, but soon enough, a local elderly man gathered the children and quieted them down, explaining the importance of what was happening and instructing them to be respectful.
After returning from India, we decided to celebrate the Panihati festival right here, in New Panihati Dhama. It was 1976, and by then, Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Subhadra Devi had been installed. We started very humbly, offering chipped rice preparations to the Deities in eight ceramic pots. We continued this every year during Panihati festival time.
In 1981, His Holiness Jayapataka Swami visited our temple for the first time. He was so inspired by our efforts to celebrate the festival, that he immediately enlightened us with a grand vision for a Chipped Rice Festival. He explained to us the details of how to prepare the pots, the meaning of each pot, and the ingredients to put into each pot, and we were very impressed. Since 1981 he has personally participated in preparing the pots and offering them to the Deities. He later expanded our small Panihati Festival into a three-day event by including the Ratha Yatra Parade. Without fail, every year he is here with us, adding details to the festival, and making this one of ISKCON’s most eagerly anticipated events of the year.