Ratha Yatra - India's Ancient Culture Comes to Ireland
Ratha Yatra is the popular international annual parade festival of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It features a wooden chariot pulled by hand accompanied by singing, dancing, drums, cymbals and culminates in an afternoon of music, drama and dance exhibits.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his first American disciples first introduced Ratha Yatra to the West in 1967 in San Francisco. The festival is coordinated in association with and with the support of ISKCON Ireland, the Irish Indian community, the Indian embassy and other voluntary supporters.
In many ways the Ratha Yatra could be considered an Eastern Saint Patrick’s Day. One of the reasons it has been embraced by the councils of many major international cities is due to its multi-cultural effort of bringing people of all beliefs and cultures together. The core principles behind the event are that whatever our beliefs, religions or background we should be able to join together in a spirit of celebration (you are welcome to read about the philosophy of Krishna consciousness).
To the right: Jayapataka Maharaja and Praghosa dasa arrive at St Stephen's Green with Lord Jagannatha, Lady Subhadra and Lord Baladeva in the background. Maharaja is affectionately known as "Mr. Ratha Yatra" due to the amount of Ratha Yatra festivals he has attended all around the world. (It is well into the hundreds at this stage and we wish him well in attending many more in the future including more in Ireland!)
The Ratha Yatra parade has been celebrated annually in India for over 2000 years, and is now embraced by the people of many international cities such as London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles every year.
The well-loved chariot for our local Jagannatha deities tours the major cities of the UK and Western Europe and is always joyously welcomed upon its return to the multicultural cities of Dublin and Belfast.
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