The 19th annual Festival of Chariots, known as the ‘Birmingham Ratha Yatra’, brought an array of colour and sunshine to the city over the weekend, with music, dance, vegetarian food and positive vibes.

The Hindu festival was beaming with smiles and joy as faithful revellers took part in a procession around Victoria Square in the city centre, in an event organised by the Birmingham branch of the Hare Krishnas.

Rathayatra is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness’ biggest street festival. It features huge, wooden chariot pulled by hand in a grand procession. All the way through there is melodious singing, chanting and dancing to rhythmical drums and cymbals. The procession ends with a stage show, a festival and delicious vegetarian prasadam feast.

The 19th Anniversary of the Birmingham Ratha Yatra Festival 2019 was a spectacular event with a city centre procession and festival, incorporating all the exoticness, vitality and colour that is in India. This year, the procession was fortunate enough to be joined by the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham.

Starting in Victoria Square, the chariot and its followers of worshippers, dancers and musicians proceeded down New Street before turning around and making the journey back again to continue festivities in the square.

The festival parade symbolises Lord Jaganath (Lord Krishna), his brother Balarama and his sister Subdra returning home after a long period away. The return home is celebrated by Hindus across the world.

The original Ratha Yatra is thought to be the oldest street procession in the world. The Birmingham tribute lasted around 90mins before moving onto static celebrations, including a number of stalls selling books, cakes, bags and henna. There was also an opportunity to have some free food, known as ‘Prasadam’.

ISKCON is a movement founded by Srila Prabhupada in 1969 and follows the Gaudiya Vaishavism branch of Hinduism. The movement has a huge focus on mediating on a certain mantra-Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.


Here’s 19 photos of the Ratha Yatra festival in Birmingham:

#1  Procession starting from Victoria Square

Mohan Mayapur

#2  Volunteers creating a path for the parade

Mohan Mayapur

#3  Jaganath, Balarama and Subdra 

Mohan Mayapur

#4  Children next to a small chariot 

Mohan Mayapur

#5  Procession begins

Mohan Mayapur

#6  Inside of the Chariot 

Mohan Mayapur

#7  Procession through the streets of Birmingham

Mohan Mayapur

#8  One of the chariots on the procession

Mohan Mayapur

#9  Celebrating peace and love with colour

Mohan Mayapur

#10  Chariots returning back to Victoria Square 

Sushill Sharma

#11  Crowds gathering at Victoria Square 

Mohan Mayapur

#12  Hare Krishna

Mohan Mayapur

#13  Crowds stop to take photos of the Chariots

Mohan Mayapur

#14  A family enjoying the festival

Sushill Sharma

#15  Carob and mixed fruit cupcakes

Mohan Mayapur

#16  Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Mohammed Azim

Mohan Mayapur

#17  Families gather to watch entertainment

Mohan Mayapur

#18  Enjoying the festival atmosphere

Mohan Mayapur

#19  The Lord and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham

Mohan Mayapur

Birmingham-Ratha-Yatra-2019ISKCON Birmingham

Article by guest contributor Sushill Sharma and photographs by Mohan Mayapur, both for I Am Birmingham.

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