Last updated 24 July 2017
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The Rathayatra festival is held in many different cities around Europe. The one that I got to experience was held in the historical and gorgeous Trafalgar Square of London. The festival offered three chariots with deities on display, a performance stage, a food stand serving tasty free vegetarian meals, a water stand serving free water, lots of other stands – I bought a recipes book for a donation from one of them, kirtan, bhajan tasters, and good fun and great vibes in general.
Pictured above: Deity chariot at Rathayatra London hosted at Trafalgar Square.
Pictured above: Rathayatra London hosted at Trafalgar Square.
Pictured above: Deity at Rathayatra London Festival, Trafalgar Square.
The colourful, vibrant, traffic stopping, jaw dropping, energised London procession started in Hyde Park at noon and paraded via Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square, reaching Trafalgar Square for approximately 2pm.
People pulled the chariots by ropes and danced on the streets.
I joined the festival in Trafalgar Square where the chariots remained on display for the rest of the day. In Trafalgar Square there was also a stage with musical performances, as well as various stands. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there was free traditional vegetarian food given out to all that came to the festival as well as free water. It was a very hot day so the water went down a treat! I also bought a recipes book from the festival for a donation to the religious group that had the stand and were part of the festival. Some of the most memorable elements of the festival for me were the vibrancy of the people, the efforts some made to dress up, and generally great vibes. The festival attracted religious devotees as well as those who just wanted to experience and sample a different culture.
Rathayatra London feast: plates are packed with delicious traditional vegetarian food. And the food was in fact served to everyone for free.
Pictured above: This is what we ate at Rathayatra London - delicious vegetarian Indian-style food.
Pictured above: The luxury car at Rathayatra London is ready to transport one of the three Deities home. There were another two luxury cars for the other two Deities.
Rathayatra is a Hindu festival celebrated all over the world. During the festival a grand procession takes places where the deities of Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra are paraded in super-sized carts that are pulled by hand. Procession is followed by a celebration feast where one can sample dance, music, food, books and more.
Rathayatra London is an all-inclusive festival that welcomes religious devotees as well as those simply looking to experience and enjoy something different.
No doubt some of the unsuspecting tourists visiting the famous Trafalgar Square for site seeing were also drawn into this vibrant festival, as they were in for a treat they couldn’t have had imagined.
Here is a video from Rathayatra London Festival in 2016.
Here are other dates as we could find for the Rathayatra festivals in various cities around Europe:
This year (2017) the assembling of the new Rathayata cart, took place in Carmarthen Park from 12:30pm. They made their way to the bus station aiming for 2pm, inviting those who are interested to be there to meet them at 1:45pm. The procession walked up Lammas St and finished at the park with Kirtan (sacred music) and a FREE vegetarian feast! The free vegetarian food was served after the procession in the Park next to the Quins rugby club.
This year it was the second Carmarthen Rathayatra festival. This 5000 year old tradition from India is a fantastic and a family friendly opportunity to join in the singing and dancing and feasting, and everyone is welcome.
For the year 2017 Dublin Ratha Yatra (festival of chariots) falls on Saturday, July 29th. It will begin at 11:30am from Merrion Square South and proceed to St. Stephen's Green.
The event schedule is as follows:
Cardiff Ratha Yatra 2017 will take place 5 of August. This year is the 12th anniversary of the annual Ratha Yatra Cardiff event. The event will include a large procession through the city centre and festival with drama, music, dance, meditation and a free vegetarian feast in Bute Park. All of this is entirely free of charge!
The procession starts at King Edward VII Avenue (near National Museum) at 12 noon. The festival will be in Bute Park (by the Bute Park cafe) between 2pm and 5pm. This information is available on the ISCON Wales website.
ISCON Amsterdam’s last Ratha Yatra was in 2015, so the 2017 event is long awaited. Lord Jagannatha’s arrival in Amsterdam is due to take place on the 19th of August. See official event poster on Facebook.