In the News:
Hare Krishna festival lifts Londoners' spirits
Posted August 4, 2005
London, July 20, 2005
Over 25,000 people participated in the 37th London "Ratha-yatra Carnival of Chariots" last Sunday, despite the terror fear that has made many shun buses and Tube trains since 7/7. It is London's version of Jagannath Puri yatra and devotees have always flocked at the event.
As every year, the annual Hare Krishna festival was a colourful display of London's multicultural and multi-faith community. Three 40-foot high colourful chariots carrying the deities of Lord Jagannatha, Lady Subhadra and Lord Balarama were hand-pulled by a 5,000 strong procession, from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, accompanied by singers, musicians, and dancers.
At Trafalgar Square, where the procession came to an end, the three chariots were lined up against the British Gallery, while festival goers participated in a cultural and educational fair. A colourful host of tents offered music, food, multi-media exhibitions, face painting, and a `try-a-sari' experience.
On stage, the Hare Krishna Festival Troupe treated onlookers to a performance from the Nitai Dance Group, as well as classical Indian dance, and devotional music. Free Indian vegetarian meals were distributed to all the revellers.
Londoners and tourists alike agreed that the festival was "uplifting", especially after the traumatic London bombings. "I came with my girlfriend, and it's so nice to see the colours and smiles on everyone's faces," said one London man.
The traditional Jagannath Ratha Yatra is a celebration over 5000 years old, observed in the ancient holy city of Jagannath Puri in Orissa, India, making it the oldest street festival in the world.
The founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness brought this ancient festival to the western shores. The first Ratha-yatra festival outside India took place in San Francisco in 1967. This festival came to London in 1969, where it has been faithfully observed every year for the last 37 years attracting more than 15,000 people.