Ratha-Yatra Indian Chariot Festival

By on 23/07/2009 in News

martin mullaneyAn Indian chariot festival said to be the oldest continuously celebrated spiritual festival in the world will be coming to Birmingham city centre on Sunday 26 July.

The free celebration of Ratha-Yatra will see a huge chariot pulled by hand through the streets of Birmingham, accompanied by music, singing and dancing. 

The festivities start at noon in Victoria Square and the beautifully decorated chariots, which represent the deities of Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra will travel along the length of New Street and back.

The festival will be launched by the Lord Mayor Cllr Michael Wilkes and following the chariot processions a stage in Victoria Square will be showing traditional music, dance and drama displays throughout the afternoon.

Colourful stalls around the square will be selling crafts and offering meditation workshops and in keeping with tradition, a vegetarian Prasadam feast will be given out free to all visitors until 6pm.

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture said, “People from all cultures and faiths are invited to come and enjoy this vibrant and colourful celebration, and to experience a small slice of India in Birmingham.  This is just one of many community events supported by Birmingham City Council each year to help celebrate the wonderful diversity of our city.”

Nitai Charan Das, an ISKCON Director and Birmingham Temple President said, “Rathayatra is a festival that brings everyone together to remember and reflect on our relationship with God.  There are many wonderful activities running through the day including youth displaying their artistic talents in drama, music and arts, free food being served all day and a vibrant carnival procession in the city centre.”

Sharon Lea, Acting Strategic Director of Environment and Culture said, “Birmingham City Council is proud to be continuing the tradition of the ancient Indian festival of Ratha-Yatra, and this will be a great opportunity for the city's residents to come together to enjoy the free entertainment.”

This will be the ninth annual celebration of Rathayatra in Birmingham, which was first celebrated several millennia ago in the town of Jagannath Puri in the Bay of Bengal.  It is the largest of the festivals celebrated by Krishna devotees, and is the only one to happen outside of the temples.

Ratha-Yatra is organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and supported by Birmingham City Council.

ENDS

Media contact:
Emily Malcolm on 0121 303 8794 or 07766 923 352
emily.malcolm@birmingham.gov.uk

Notes to Editors

Ratha-Yatra is one of many free cultural activities planned in Birmingham over the weekend of 24-26 July as part of the London 2012 Open Weekend.  Supported by BP, the Open Weekend a series of events across the country enabling access to excellence in the arts, culture and sport and celebrating three years to go until the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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