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

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Thousands Join the Joy in Leicester UK for 30th Annual Rathayatra
By Thomas Haribol, ISKCON News Managing Editor   |  Jul 09, 2023

The City of Leicester became a sea of colour as Krishna devotees gathered from around the country to attend the vibrant Hare Krishna festival on July 2, 2023. Located in the East Midlands region of England, Leicester is a vibrant and culturally diverse city with a rich history. It’s known for its historic landmarks, such as Leicester Cathedral, and its thriving arts, music, and sports scenes. 

A thunderous pahandi ceremony was performed as the magnificent Deities of Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra danced out of the city centre temple and were carried onto the 40-foot chariot. “Rathayatra 2023 was electric! The vibe was contagious, thousands of people celebrating this colourful festival, singing and dancing, a free sumptuous feast and great entertainment,” said Chitra Priya Devi Dasi, a volunteer, “I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

Special guests at the historic event included the Mayor of Leicester and HH Svayam Bhagavan Keshava Maharaja. Crowds of people joined the procession through the city centre,  happily pulling the chariot through the city to the Golden Mile in Belgrave. 

The procession ended at Cossington Park, where a large festival was held. Devotees served free prasada to nearly 10,000 guests. Activities included japa meditation, kirtan, book distribution, educational courses, children’s areas, and a stage show. The famous festival was covered on BBC radio, the local newspaper, and TV channels.

This joyful festival has become a much-loved feature in the city, attracting people from all backgrounds and communities. Local Jack Mockford said, “Being relatively new to the temple, this was our first Rathayatra, and we all had a fantastic time! My six-year-old daughter especially enjoyed herself and managed to push the children’s chariot all the way to Cossington Park.” He continued, “After witnessing so many locals coming onto the street on Belgrave Road, seeing how much Lord Jagannath really means to the people of Leicester was beautiful.”

Pradyumna Das, President of ISKCON Leicester, said: “This has been the most successful, well-attended Rathayatra so far. It has been really exciting to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Rathayatra in Leicester—the same year we celebrate our Radha Madhava’s 40th installation anniversary. 

ISKCON devotees have had a presence in Leicester since the 1970s and established a community there in the 1980s. As activities grew, a larger property was acquired on Thoresby Street, North Evington. This building remained a temple and a home for ISKCON Leicester for many years. Sadly, in 2010, a massive gas explosion destroyed that temple. Still, no one was harmed, and miraculously, the presiding Deities Sri Sri Pança Tattva and the murti of Srila Prabhupada were untouched by the devastation. In December 2011, ISKCON acquired one of the most iconic buildings in Leicester – the former HSBC Bank on Granby Street, right at the heart of the city. Gifted to ISKCON by a very generous family from Leicester and London, this is now the home of ISKCON Leicester. 

To keep up with the inspiring service and events at ISKCON Leichester, you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter or visit their website.

A special thanks to Nimai Dasi for details and photos.