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In the News:
Street Parade to Honour Krishna

BBC News

Posted August 23, 2005

A colourful 40ft-high chariot was pulled through the streets of Cardiff on Saturday, in what is thought to be the world's oldest street festival.

Hundreds of devotees from the Krishna Consciousness movement were celebrating the "Ratha Yatra" festival of chariots.

The celebration dates back thousands of years to the first parades in the southern Indian city Janganath Puri.

Pulling the chariot carrying three deities is believed to free pilgrims from material concerns.

The deities on the chariot are Lord Balarama, Lady Subbadra and, the most prominent of all, Lord Jaganartha (whose name means lord of all the universe).

The festival marks the day when they are believed to come out of Janganath temple to meet the people. For the rest of the year, the people must go to the temple to visit them.

"For pilgrims to pull Jaganartha, it is said they are guaranteed liberation from material life," said Tarakanatha Das, a former coal miner who has become the head Hare Krishna priest for Wales since joining the movement in 1988.

"They are guaranteed liberation from stress and anxiety and most of the worries of the modern world." he added.

"Everyone is looking for something and that dissatisfaction we feel in our hearts is the lack of a relationship with the Lord."

After pulling carved representations of the deities through the streets of Cardiff, devotees gathered in the city's Copper's Field for a cultural and educational fair.

The colourful event has been described by the head of the Hare Krishna Movement in the UK as "an amazing east-meets-west experience."

Praghosa Das added: "The traditional Indian singing, dancing and free vegetarian food and the sheer exotic pageantry make it a fun day out for all the family."

The festival was first seen outside India in San Francisco in 1967. It has been held annually in London since 1969, but this is said to be the first time the festival had come to Wales.

Organisers hope it will become an annual event.