Published On: Sat, Aug 6th, 2016

Hare Krishna festival will see devotees pull 90-foot chariot through Leicester | Leicester Mercury

Hare Krishna devotees will be pulling a giant chariot through the streets of Leicester City centre this weekend.

The 90-foot tall chariot is the centrepiece of the Rathayatra Festival of Chariots, which takes place on Sunday.

The vibrant festival celebrates the Hindu tradition when God goes out into the streets to share his joy with the people.

It will begin at the Hare Krishna Centre, in Granby Street, at 11.30am, with a welcome ceremony attended by city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and other dignitaries.

Thousands of festival-goers from across the country will then take turns to pull the chariot, containing the deities of Lord Jagannatha (Krishna); his sister Subhadra, and Lord Balarama.

They will be accompanied by music, singing and dancing as they make their way through the city and along Belgrave Gate to Cossington Park, in Belgrave.

There revellers will be entertained by dance, live music, drama and exhibitions.

The festival, the second largest of its kind in Europe, is organised by the Leicester chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

Pradyumna Das, president of ISKCON Leicester, said: “The multi-cultural festival offers fun for all the family, with face painting, dance, mantra meditation, and a free vegetarian meal.

“Rathayatra is the largest and most important festival hosted by the Leicester chapter and, as it’s ISKCON’s 50th anniversary this year, the festival promises to be even bigger and more exciting than ever.”

The festival dates back over 5,000 years to the holy city of Jagannatha Puri, in Orissa, India – making it the oldest street festival in the world.

It was first brought to Western shores in 1967 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, founder of ISKCON.

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