Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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St. Louis Chariot Festival Draws Hundreds to Popular Lakeside Setting
By Ramacarya Das   |  Jun 27, 2024
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The ISKCON Saint Louis, Missouri Center celebrated its 2024 Chariot Festival on Saturday, June 22nd, at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. The popular park is located in a diverse neighborhood in the heart of the city where many people come to walk and enjoy the beautiful lake amenities.

After the success of last year’s Chariot Festival, the anticipation of celebrating yet another successful one was running high among devotees who excitedly prepared for this year’s event. Hundreds of participants attended the Festival and pulled the chariot of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra.

This year, the organizers and volunteers worked day and night for months to pull off the Festival, wanting to make it the best one. Several booths were set up around the Tremayne shelter at the park, including Welcome, Questions & Answers, Book Distribution, Gift, Mantra Meditation, Face Painting and Henna, Yoga Meditation, and Kids Activities.

Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra on Their chariot.

As participants entered the park, they first went to the welcome booth to learn about and connect with the ISKCON chapter in St. Louis and learn more about the Ratha Yatra Festival. The Festival began at 1:30 p.m. with a dance by the Sunday School and women from our congregation. The actual chariot parade began at 2:30 p.m. and continued until 5:00 p.m. Kirtan (the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord), arati, a lecture on the pastimes of Lord Jagannath, and other cultural activities continued until 8:00 p.m. 

Throughout the parade, melodious kirtans and traditional dances were performed. After the parade, an arati ceremony was performed under a big tent on the stage where the Deity’s altar was set up. Devotees prepared 56 different food items (bhoga) to offer the Deities. Various activities, such as a lecture on the pastimes of Lord Jagannath, Bharatnatyam dance, Yoga, and Bhajan by our Sunday School students, and melodious chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra by guest and local devotees were performed under a separate tent.

Participants also visited the Books & Gifts booths where they could buy Indian jewelry, clothes, artifacts, and life-changing books such as the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Krsna Book, Chant and Be Happy, and other various texts written by the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

In the Mantra Meditation tent, guests were given chanting beads and taught to chant the Maha Mantra. They were taught this five-minute activity connects them to their soul and gives them peace of mind, tranquility, and a newfound spiritual energy.

Other tent activities included Henna Tattoos and Face Painting, Yoga Meditation, and a tent for Kids Activities, which many visited to create fun memories with their families. There was also a bake sale tent that sold delicious sweets and snacks. Finally, delectable Indian-style Prasadam was shared freely with the public. All this time, while people were walking around, the weather was cloudy and breezy.

It was amazing to see hundreds of people participating in the pulling of the chariot, watching cultural programs, benefitting from Lord Jagannath’s pastimes, and honoring sumptuous Prasadam.  It was truly a successful event. We will aspire to make this a bigger event in upcoming years to attract the diverse St. Louis communities. It was an excellent example of a community coming together and taking responsibility toward the goal of pleasing Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra.  This collective effort is very pleasing to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada as well. We want to thank everyone for supporting the 2024 Chariot Festival in St. Louis.

To follow the ongoing service of the ISKCON St. Louis community, please visit their website and follow them on their Facebook and YouTube channels.

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