Sunday 17th June 2012 â€“ from Hyde Park Corner to Trafalgar Square.
The ‘Ratha-Yatra’ Festival of Chariots returns to the streets of London:
ON: Sunday 17th June 2012 â€“ from Hyde Park Corner to Trafalgar Square.
Procession starts 12 noon from Hyde Park, South Carriage Drive and arrives at Trafalgar Square: 2.30pm. Festival ends 5.30pm.
The spirit of the Olympicsâ€“known for uniting nations will be echoed at this ancient festival. Festival-goers representing every continent of the world will come together to celebrate the spiritual unity that joins all nations. London will be illuminated by the wonderful colours and sounds of the annual festival, a vibrant celebration of Indian culture and spirituality in the city.
Thousands of revellers, pilgrims, and faith leaders from all over the world will hand-pull the three 40-foot high colourful chariots. These chariots carry the sacred deities of Lord Jagannath, Lady Subhadra and Lord Balarama from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square. The giant chariots will be accompanied by a procession of singers, musicians, and dancers. London will pulsate to Indian spiritual sounds with instruments from across the globe.
At Trafalgar Square, where the procession concludes, the whole family can enjoy cultural and educational displays and exhibitions, revealing the spiritual heart of India. Revellers can participate in lively workshops, sample traditional Indian music, food, and literature, or try sari-draping and face-painting. From the stage, festival-goers will be treated to traditional Odissi temple dance, contemporary philosophical dramas, and energising mantra chants. In addition to all this, a free sumptuous Indian vegetarian cuisine will add to a special family outing. It will indeed be a feast for the eyes, ears and the palate!
This Festival of Chariots, Ratha-yatra, is a celebration dating back over 5000 years, annually observed in the ancient holy city of Jagannath Puri in Orissa, India, making it the oldest street festival in the world. Devotees believe that if they get the honour of pulling the ropes of the giant chariot, carrying Lord Krishna, known as Jagannath â€• Lord of the Universe, then, at the end of this life, they will be granted eternal service to the Lord in the spiritual world.
Titikshu Das, Co-ordinator of London Carnival of Chariots says: “Each year, we aim to make the Ratha Yatra Festival of the Chariots a more vibrant and colourful festival for London. Now forty three years on, it’s very satisfying to see yet another generation of Londoners enjoying the Ratha-yatra celebrations here in the capital.”
East meets West
This ancient festival was brought to western shores by His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami. The first Ratha-yatra festival outside of India took place in San Francisco in 1967. This festival came to London in 1969, where it has been faithfully observed every year for over 40 years attracting more than 30,000 people throughout the day.
For public enquiries contact:
The Radha Krishna Temple, 10 Soho Street London W1V 5DA
Tel: 020 7437 3662