Rathayatra Takes London by Surprise

 

Yesterday’s Festival of the Chariots through central London was one of the most awesome, moving and spectacular events of my life. It certainly gave the City welcome relief from the last 10 terror-filled days.

Hyde park:

Perfect weather greeted the massive Rathas (chariots) as they assembled at noon in Hyde Park. Over 10,000 attendees gathered to escort the parade on it’s 3 hour route through the city.

Meanwhile a massive feast was being prepared at Bhaktivedanta Manor. Here Parasurama fries fresh chilies, ginger and cumin seeds with fresh tomato puree in one of ten woks of eggplant and panir cheese curry.

wok on!:

The kitchen pulled out their biggest pots and strongest men for the task. These boys from Russia are preparing 1500kg of mashed potatoes for the Ekadasi (grain-free) free feast.

cooking it up:

Lord Balarama, bestower of spiritual strength, ever-smiling, surveys the scene as the parade moves off from its starting point.

Balarama!:

The three 5-tonne chariots, each equipped with elaborate steering and hydraulic canopy-raising and brake facilities, rumble down the main thoroughfares of London. The huge police presence and the appropriate traffic re-directions made for a smooth seamless parade. I have never seen so many smiling policeman in one day. Surely this was a welcome relief from the recent heavy events.

on the move:

Each Ratha had it’s own huge group of accompanying musicians, each with it’s own unique flavour, resounding percussion and sweet melodies. I got the opportunity of leading the singing in all three groups throughout the afternoon.

Rath Kirtan:

Beat that drum, brother!

Beat that drum, brother!:

The local Bill enjoyed the day as much as we did. I met my old friend Parama from Australia who posed with this blissed-out Bobby.

Brotherhood:

On the last leg of the parade, passing the Theatre Royal in Haymarket.

Theatre Royal:

Lord Nelson played host to the festival in Trafalgar Square. Stage events, musical performances, information booths, face-painting tents, and question-and-answer sessions were well attended throughout the afternoon. The massive and most delectable feast for 10,000 was very well received.

Trafalgar square:

Locals say this was the biggest, best, warmest and most exciting Rathayatra in London’s 37+ year history of the Parade.
Posted by Kurma on 18/7/05; 3:36:07 PM from the Travel dept.

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