The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Festival of the Chariots Lights Up Leicester

By: for BBC World News (UK) on Aug. 16, 2008

Once again the Hindu festival of Rathayatra was celebrated in style by Leicester revelers, but with more chariots than before. Listen to find out what the festival is all about...

The annual Ratha Yatra chariot festival was bigger and better than in previous years with three sumptuously decorated chariots being wheeled from Leicester's Clocktower to Cossington Park in Belgrave.

The festival has taken place in Leicester for 14 years, but this year was the first time the event has taken to the streets with three chariots.

Leicester is now the second city in Europe to host this festival on such a scale.

Listen: Festival of Chariots

The Lord Mayor, Manjula Sood and other Councillors and Community Leaders attended the spectacular religious festival.

Listen to find out what the festival is all about...

Hindus believe that 5,000 years ago when Lord Krishna was on this planet he rode chariot from his palace in Dwarka in the west of India to his home in the north, Vrindavanthe.

When Krishna approached his home town local people came out in anticipation of his arrival; they couldn't wait to have him back after a long separation.

Ratha Yatra is about remembering and replicating this chariot return of Lord Krishna five millennia ago.

Although India is the home of the festival, it is celebrated all over the world and was introduced to Western world over 40 years ago.

Family Fun

This year the organisers made three chariots. The deity form of Lord Krishna rode on of the chariots and the devotees pulled him.

Hundreds of people take part every year with a good number of devotees walking in front of the chariots as they pull them along.

The procession made its way down the Haymarket with song, dance and ceremony all the way to Belgrave Road followed by the festivities in Cossington Park.

There was free vegetarian food for around 7,000 people, stage performances, festive music and children's activities - fun for all the family.

The organisers were overwhelmed with emotion that this year's Ratha Yatra could be presented to the people of Leicester in such a grand scale.

"I'm very excited, I'm very happy Leicester's making history by being the second city to pull three chariots."

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