The Irish festival of St Patrick's day is celebrated in many major cities around the world. Unfortunately the festival in honor of the Patron Saint of Ireland is often celebrated in a rather unsaintly fashion. Many see it as simply a national festival celebrating all that is Irish with an emphasis on wearing something green and getting drunk.
However most cities put on a grand parade during the day, filled with marching bands, traditional dancers, musicians and colorful floats. This year for the first time Parasurama Dasa entered the Hare Krsna devotees in the public parade in London. London has always had a large Irish population and the St. Patrick's Day Parade has been an annual event there for many years.
About 20 devotees wore either green saris or green chadars (wool scarves) and sang, accompanied by traditional instruments as well as base guitar and a drum kit. At the front of the chanting party, Parasurama Dasa and another devotee, Mark, dressed as traditional Irish Leprechauns and sang and danced, doing cartwheels down the streets.
As the parade weaved it's way through London's famous streets people clapped and cheered.
"It was like London Ratha Yatra" remarked Gopa Kumara Dasa. "We went down the same route, Hyde Park, Piccadilly, and Trafalgar Square. The streets were packed. Everyone was smiling with many even singing 'Hare Krsna'!"
Many Irish people are very familiar with the devotees singing in the streets on St. Patrick's Day. Annually devotees would take to the streets of the capital, Dublin, and for a few years they also took part in the main parade there using the Ratha Yatra cart.
Although no longer in the Dublin Parade, the devotees still performed kirtana in Ireland's fastest growing City, Galway. Situated on the Atlantic coast Galway attracts people from around the country as well as many international tourists.
Medhavi Nimai Dasa, who lives in the city explained, "Usually devotees go out for Harinama in Dublin during the year. However today devotees from around the country have come here to Galway to take advantage of the festive spirit and give people a chance to hear Krsna's names. It really has a big impact. I meet people from time to time during the year who fondly remember dancing with the Harinama or just watching and listening."
Back in London Parasurama has big plans for the summer months. Although originally from Ireland, he now lives in England and is involved in many carnivals around the country. As he drove the minibus of devotees back to Bhaktivedanta Manor, he told them of the many similar upcoming festivals and proudly announced the first ever Ratha Yatra in Scotland in August.
For years devotees have openly invited people to participate in Vaisnava festivals such as Ratha Yatra. Now that favor is being returned by the authorities, who are allowing devotees to participate in national and community carnivals and parades around the country.