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10th Annual Festival of the Chariots, Jacksonville, FL

By: for ISKCON News on Aug. 21, 2014


 

Rathayatra is an Indian multi-cultural parade followed by a cultural festival.  There is live music, singing, classical dance, books, bazaar, and lots of free delicious vegetarian food. The Ratha Yatra Parade is the oldest known parade in the world. A free feast will be served continuously from 3:30 PM onward. City Council member Ms. Christine Hoffman and former Mayor Fland Sharp will inaugurate the festival at 3:30 PM at the Seawalk Pavillion bandshell. The Parade begins at 3:30 PM. at the bandshell, goes first North & then back South directly on the beach, ending back at the bandshell by 6 PM at which time the cultural program begins. The festival continues till 9 PM. This awesome festival draws about 1,500 people every year.

Add chariots and a mini tour of India to the exotic things one might see during a Saturday stroll at Jacksonville Beach. Get a taste of India without leaving Florida on Saturday, August 23, 2014. The 10th Annual Festival of the Chariots & Ratha Yatra Parade, an Indian multi-cultural extravaganza, will take place on the beach & at the Seawalk Pavillion, Seawalk Plaza Beach Blvd. & Ocean Front South in Jacksonville Beach from 3:30 to 9 PM.

There will be lots of family-friendly activities and entertainment: live music and classical Indian dance, books.  The big draw is a sumptuous feast of delicious vegetarian food served free of charge to all.

The procession route is a mile or so long and can be easily walked by all age groups.  The parade will move in a leisurely fashion, stopping here and there along the route, giving way to song and dance.  The procession’s unique feature is a huge chariot with a blue, red and yellow canopy decorated with swans, lotus flowers, flags, Hanuman and a brass chakra on top.  This chariot has two very thick ropes attached to it that are over one hundred feet long. These ropes are pulled by the parade-goers, propelling the chariot along the parade route.  Riding on the Chariot are the beautiful Deities of Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra, decorated with stunning silk outfits & real flowers.  It’s a vision from another world.  Accompanying the procession is lively Indian music and dancing, backed by double-headed mrdanga drums & karatala hand cymbals.  It’s an ecstatic, exciting event.

The festival is sponsored by ISKCON of Alachua, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness whose Founder/Acharya, His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, came to America from India forty-nine years ago and introduced the timeless tradition of the Festival of the Chariot (called Ratha Yatra in India).  Since the 60’s this festival has been held yearly in over 100 major cities in the United States, Canada, and all over the world.  Nine Ratha Yatras are held yearly in the state of Florida:  Miami, Jacksonville Beach, Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Clearwater Beach & St. Augustine.

 

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