Huge decorated chariot will make its way through the city centre this weekend as part of colourful celebrations of the Hare Krishna festival of Rathayatra.
The event, on Sunday, July 14, will see a procession travelling from the Hare Krishna Temple in Granby Street to Cossington Park in Belgrave.
The celebrations begin at 9.30am, with a traditional dance at the ISKCON Temple, after which the procession itself leaves from outside Visit Leicester at 11.30am, and will travel along Gallowtree Gate, Haymarket, Belgrave Gate and Belgrave Road to Cossington Park for about 2pm.
There will be road closures along the route, and parking will be suspended.
Rathayatra is one of the major events for followers of the Hare Krishna faith, and the event is being organised by the International Society for Krisha Consciousness (ISKCON), which has been present in the city since the 1970s.
The events at Cossington Park will feature live entertainment, dancing, music, meditation and exhibitions, as well as serving vegetarian food.
Rathayatra Festival of Chariots celebrates ISKCON’s 50th anniversary in Leicester
Sunday 14 July 2019
Procession starts outside ISKCON Leicester, 31 Granby Street, to Cossington Park in Belgrave
Welcome ceremony 9.30am,
Procession starts 11.30am on Granby Street, Leicester City Centre.
Arrives Cossington Park 2.00pm for free festival for all.
The Hare Krishna Festival of Chariots returns to our City once again on Sunday 14 July 2019, this year, celebrating the monumental 50th anniversary of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in the UK.
One of the biggest processions in the Midlands, the vibrant festival will begin at ISKCON Leicester, 31 Granby Street with a tumultuous welcome ceremony called a pahandi, while the inauguration will commence at 11.30am in the presence of the Cllr Manjula Sood, and community leaders.
Festival-goers from all over the country will hand-pull the 40ft chariot carrying the magnificent Deities of Lord Jagannatha (Krishna), his sister Subhadra, and Lord Balarama through the City Centre accompanied by music, singing, and dancing.
The lively procession, with spiritual sounds and instruments from all over the globe, will travel from the City Centre along the Golden Mile and into Cossington Park.
At Cossington Park, there will be a variety of experiences for all the family, including mantra meditation, children’s fun activities, a special exhibition on 50 years of ISKCON in the UK, and a free vegetarian meal.
“This one day of the year when the Lord comes out of the temple to glance upon all people of the City is very special,” says President of ISKCON Leicester, Pradyumna Das. “It gives us all an opportunity to recognise our true identity spirit souls in connection to God and go beyond colour, nationality and even religion.
Our essence is spiritual and Rathayatra celebrates that by inviting and including everyone, sharing food and experiencing the Hare Krishna chanting.”
The traditional Jagannatha Rathayatra is a celebration over 5000 years-old, observed in the ancient holy city of Jagannatha Puri in Orissa, India, making it the oldest street festival in the world. Devotees believe that if they get the honour of pulling the ropes of the giant chariot, carrying Lord Krishna, known as Jagannatha – Lord of the Universe, then at the end of this life, they will be granted a place in the spiritual world. Rathayatra in Puri attracts crowds of of over 15 million people.
East meets West
This ancient festival was first brought to Western shores in 1967 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Since then, this festival has become a popular cultural event in major cities around the world. Leicester is proud to host the second largest such celebration in Europe.
You can see highlights of Rathayatra in Leicester on the video below.