Chakra Announcements

Vancouver Holds 34th Chariot Festival

by Jaya Govinda Das

Posted August 22, 2007

It was "gloom to glee" for many parade participants as Vancouver, B.C.'s 34th annual Rathayatra got underway on August 12. Threatening weather with a gloomy overcast sky loomed above the Lord's Chariots. At the precise moment the Chariots began to roll, the clouds opened their gates and a torrent of mercy fell upon the chariots, devotees, well-wishers, spectators, passersby and media hounds.

To many, the visit brought anxiety and anguish. Others lauded the event as the blessings of Lord Jagannatha -- and blessings they were. As the parade passed the five-minute mark the rainfall abated, and the Chariot Parade came to full life on a freshly cleansed city -- a venture only the Supreme Lord could discharge.

Scottish pipers led the parade with a regal victory march. The Clear FM Community Cruiser, the satellite communications chariot of a popular radio station, followed, broadcasting live reports from the Chariot Festival. Like the main "Lion" entrance of the Jagannath Temple in Puri, the place of origin of this ancient celebration, two Chinese Lions danced with classic steps before the moving temple of Lord Jagannath.

A horse-drawn cart offered relief for the most weary walkers who needed periodic rest along the 3-km journey along Beach Avenue into world-famous Stanley Park.

Lord Jagannath in His original form as Baby Krishna also appeared for the occasion on His Lotus Flower Chariot, much to the delight of blessing-seekers who rushed toward Him like paparazzi after worldly celebrities. The real splendours of the whole event, however, were the three colourful flower-and-balloon-bedecked Chariots of the Lord, His brother and His sister.

Reigning under Their huge telescoping canopies, the Deities exhibited smiling glances of liberation amidst the transcendental sounds of the holy name resounding through Vancouver's densely-populated West End.

At the conclusion of the parade, phase two of the Chariot Festival leaped to life. Two stages hosted an ensemble of classic entertainment. The Hare Krishna Youth Tour demonstrated their incredibly skilled performances of Bharatanatyam dance, drama and music. Children and adults alike were entertained with Sadhvi dasi's puppet theatre performances as "Neat Tie" (Nitai) the clown, who engagingly told tales of the divine while making balloon art.

Mehndi hand tattoos, face painting, vegetarian cooking demonstrations and other cultural exhibitions enhanced the day, while a free vegetarian feast was distributed to an estimated 15,000. Lord Jagannath Rathayatra ki jai!

  1. Horse-drawn cart provided rest for some Rathayatra pilgrims

  2. Giant chariots dwarf the crowds near Second Beach

  3. Crowds throng about a Rathayatra cart

  4. Paratpara dasi shades Subhadra Devi as Deities are carried to Festival of India site

  5. Carts arrive at Stanley Park

  6. Beach Avenue was swept clean for Lord Jagannath's procession.

  7. Laulya dasi greets arriving Deities

  8. Nipuna das at philosophy booth

  9. Sadhvi dasi performs as Neat-Tie the Clown