This picture, taken by Jonny 2005, is one of many taken yesterday at London Rathayatra, always a great day for photographers.
A grand day out for Lord Jagannatha yesterday -and about 8,000 of His ardent followers. Light rain to clean the streets before the parade; sunshine all the way through, with just a little light wind to cool the kirtaniyas from their singing and dancing. Brightly-coloured flags waved, London policemen smiled, a cabinet minister swept the streets of the capital before the fifty-foot chariots, and tourists couldn’t believe their luck. It was the London Rathayatra, the 40th annual celebration of the Festival of the Chariots.
Trafalgar Square looked like an Indian bazaar, with all kinds of tents revealing sacred food for free distribution to all comers; exotic items for sale; and all manner of wise women and men to impart the wisdom of the east. Occasionally the wind whipped up the spray from the fountains and blew it for yards to drench some unsuspecting festival-goers. Thus the constant sound of the Hare Krishna mantra throughout the afternoon was regularly punctuated by screams and laughter.
The free food tents did well, and almost 12,000 were fed a fine meal. Westminster Council, on hand to see that all health and safety measures were followed, praised the Krishna devotees for their public spirit. This was the 40th time that devotees of Krishna had staged the event, it gets better every year, and it keeps on growing.
The devotees like to think that it brings the music, dance and laughter of the spiritual world down to earth for an afternoon – and that can’t be a bad thing for these troubled times.
More photos from ‘London Rathayatra’ can be seen on http://www.flickr.com
Above: The tented Trafalgar Square attracted thousands throughout the afternoon. Below: Three chariots bearing Jagannatha, Subhadra and Baladeva look out over Trafalgar Square from the plaza before the National Gallery.