By Radha Mohan Dasa
London Ratha Yatra 2006
London‚Äôs Ratha Yatra festival is arguably one of the largest and most spectacular outside of India. On Sunday 18th June, the three 40 foot high Rath Carts left Hyde Park on their intrepid journey to Trafalgar Square. In front of each cart was a sea of devotees and pilgrims, swarming the streets and filling the sky with the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra and the beating of drums. There were instruments of every kind and the festival carried an energy which uplifted everyone within an earshot.
This year‚Äôs festival was blessed by record numbers of ISKCON‚Äôs senior devotees and leaders, including ten sannyasis. Devotees not only came from around the UK, but also from across Europe and the US.
At Trafalgar Square, festival-goers were treated to a varied cultural and educational fair with a hot of coloured tents offering music, exhibitions, stalls, question and answer tents and children‚Äôs activities. As Nelson‚Äôs Column was in scaffolding, there a stage was erected in front of the main steps which provided the audience with natural ‚Äėtiered-seating‚Äô, like an ancient Roman amphitheatre. Hence, the stage program carried a warm connection between the performers and the audience.
Delicious free prasad (sanctified food) was distributed without cessation between 11.30am ‚Äď 5.30pm.
Titiksu das, the main organizer of the festival, would like to send a big ‚Äėthank you‚Äô to all those who helped and to all those who attended the festival- - -without whom nothing would have been possible.
‚ÄúThis year the festival organisers faced problems receiving permission for the chariots to be placed on the new floor in front of the National Gallery,‚ÄĚ explained Titiksu das, ‚ÄúIt was not easy to receive permission to distribute the prasad either. Fortunately, permission was granted at the eleventh hour and everything went according to plan.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúBy coming to London Ratha Yatra I feel encouraged seeing so many people. For the devotees it is a perfect time to get together and take each others‚Äô association. It brings old memories back and we should have events like this more often.‚ÄĚ
Bhakti Caru Swami
‚ÄúThe way that devotees can win the hearts of the people is by having these festivals. The set up in Trafalgar Square was great and the three chariots in front of the National Gallery was perfect.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSometimes I have the realisation that Ratha Yatra is Jagannath‚Äôs big street party and everyone present are his party guests. As He is Lord of the universe, everyone in the universe is invited.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt was one of the nicest Ratha Yatras ever. The kirtans on the procession were like waves of dancing devotees! Such blissful association‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt was great to see devotees from so many places coming together. This is the real value of Jagannath Ratha Yatra.‚ÄĚ
Vishnu Murti das
“You get to see so many devotees from around the place. When you don‚Äôt get much devotee association you sometimes forget, but on days like this you realise that this movement is actually very big and very successful!‚ÄĚ
Click on the thumbs to see high resolution fotos