In Montreal This Weekend
Today is the day of Ratha Yatra in Montreal. This city seems to attract cultures from around the world. It’s French language insistence doesn’t deter Francophones from accommodating so many events. This weekend the city hosts the world’s largest jazz festival. Posters throughout the city are boosting Milesmania. That is referring to Miles Davis, a favourite of mine. In 1973 when I became a monk I put Miles and other masters of music to the side for devotional music, kirtan and bhajans.
Our Ratha Yatra is modest compared to the Jazz Festival as far as attendance goes. Those who come to our event get charmed in a unique way. Leonard Cohen, poet and vocalist revolutionary, came to the Montreal event three summers ago. He informed me that he met the Swami, Srila Prabhupada, in the sixities. Cohen stayed to hear some of the chant.
Like all years, Ratha Yatra creates a buzz for many different kinds of people and in different ways. It literally means Chariot Festival and that is most definitely what it is. It is a singing event, a food festival, a cultural display and a rope-pulling project and it is also most emphatically a walking venture.
In fact, it dawned on me that here we are on St. Laruent, making that turn at Mount Royale, and on foot with hundreds of pedestrian pals. Undeniably we are looking at a very happy walking festival.