Chakra Announcements

Vancouver Chariot Festival overwhelming success

submitted by Jayagovinda das

Posted September 2, 2004

The Hare Krishna Temple celebrated their 30th anniversary of the Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannataha on Sunday and it was an overwhelming success.

For the first time three large chariots were used to carry Lord Krishna, His Brother Balarama and Sister Subhadra along the ocean front of Vancouver's Beach Ave.

This year's Ratha-Yatra festival again emanated the universal meaning of Jagannath (Lord of the universe), as festival goers from all ethnic, social and economic backgrounds side by side joyfully pulled the huge Chariots of the Lord as the holy names of Krishna and Rama echoed off the cliff-high buildings of the densely populated West End.

It certainly was an amazing sight: Three huge, radiantly colourful Chariots, accompanied by marching bands, billowing balloon arches, a bullock cart and thousands of devoted souls of the Lord gracefully moving along the oceanfront Beach Avenue and on into world-famous Stanley Park.

Once inside the park a colourful village of tents, stages and exhibits that mysteriously appeared overnight came to life as thousands of visitors embarked upon a spiritual extravaganza.

World-class internationally acclaimed Odissi Dancer, Sheherazade Cooper headlined the main stage, along with a five-star drama by the Hare Krishna Temple Natya Shastra Theatre Troupe, keeping the audience spellbound and on the edge of their seats with awe-inspiring performances. Face painting, clowns, spiritual puppet shows, balloon artists, henna hand tattoos and much more made the Children's Theatre Tent very popular.

The original Jagannatha Ratha-Yatra, dating back thousands of years, takes place in the seaside town of Puri in the state of Orissa on the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the oldest festivals and one of the most celebrated festivals in the world.

More recently however, this festival was transplanted on "foreign" soil for the very first time. It was in 1967 that His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), requested the young "boys and girls" of San Francisco to have a Rathayatra festival of Lord Jagannatha.

Since that somewhat innocent beginning, under the careful guidance of the swami, this Ratha-yatra has expanded to six contents of the world and evolved into a well-developed, sophisticated festival with traditional-style carts and everything.

Jagannatha Ratha-Yatras are now taking place on the main streets of the world -- New York's Fifth Ave, London's Trafalgar Square, Moscow's Red Square, as well as Tokyo, Madrid, Rio, Sidney, and Vancouver.

Ratha-Yatra, which literally means Chariot Festival, is a festival where the Deity of Lord Krishna, as Jagannatha (Lord of the Universe), is taken for a ride on His Chariot accompanied by His brother, Balarama, and sister Subhadra on Their Chariots.

These Chariots are very special in that they are powered, not by fuel or electricity, but by the devotion of the Lord's devotees as they pull the ropes. It is stated in the shastra that anyone who pulls on the ropes of the Lord's Chariot is guaranteed liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Congratulations should go to all the members of the local Hare Krishna Temple who made this year's Ratha-Yatra Festival the grand success it was. For futher information visit our web: http://vancouver.iskcon.ca/Ratha%20Report%2004.htm


This Vancouver Rathayatra report appeared in three local community newspapers in the Vancouver area.