Harivamsa Prabhu’s Departure
Posted March 18, 2011
Harivamsa prabhu serving as cart guide at Rathayatra.
With sadness we received the news of the passing of Harivamsa das on Wednesday, March 9. He was a very dedicated devotee of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda at Bhaktivedanta Manor in the United Kingdom for many years. We will leave it to his close friends and mentors at the Manor to describe the glories of that service. But what many devotees may not be aware of is that he also performed significant service to our London Lord Jagannatha.
For the first time in 2001, we were able to hold the Snana Yatra of Lord Jagannatha in a large marquee at Bhaktivedanta Manor. With more than 1,200 devotees bathing Their Lordships, a queueing system had to be implemented. Harivamsa prabhu enthusiastically came forward to help organise and assemble the barriers and assist the devotees in the queue. He also organised donation boxes and took care of all the donations. After the festival he would help clear up and clean until late in the evening. He continued this service until 2008 when Snana Yatra returned to the London Temple at Soho Street.
In 2004 we were fortunate in being able to offer Their Lordships three chariots for the first time in London. This meant we needed two more cart guides or flagpersons. Harivamsa prabhu eagerly took up service as Lord Jagannatha's cart guide. Although we call them cart guides, they are actually cart co-ordinators. This service involves liaising between the cart stewards, the driver, the winch operator, the brakeman and the rope pullers to facilitate the safe and smooth passage of the carts.
From under the cart it is not always possible to see where to steer because one's vision can be blocked by the crowds. Similarly, from the position of the winch operator one cannot always see if the canopy can clear a particular tree or lamp post. The cart guide has to give directions for all these movements. There are approximately 1,500 devotees with each cart, and the cart guide together with the cart steward team leader are responsible for their safety. Harivamsa das performed this service from 2004 until 2010.
From 2005 onwards Harivamsa prabhu also helped the set-up crew in Trafalgar Square from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. This is quite heavy work involving the erection of tents and barriers and the deployment of tables and chairs. From 10 a.m. he would attend at Hyde Park for the start of the procession.
After the end of the procession at 2.30 p.m. Harivamsa das would rush back to the Manor to perform his regular Sunday service throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening.
To distribute approximately 18,000 plates of prasadam at Rathayatra requires 36 large 240-litre barrels together with 50 serving buckets and spoons. On the Monday after Rathayatra these have to be cleaned and taken back to the Rath warehouse. From 2006 onwards Harivamsa prabhu insisted on helping with this service, which takes two devotees from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
In 2008 he visited the Rath warehouse to see the rebuilding and refurbishment of Lady Subhadra's chariot, and again in 2009 to learn how the chariots are loaded and unloaded onto trucks.
Always enthusiastic, cheerful and friendly, Harivamsa will be remembered for his wonderful service. We pray that Lord Jagannatha may shower His blessing upon him. Harivamsa prabhu ki jaya!
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