Known as the Festival of Chariots, ISKCON Botswana will be hosting the second annual Ratha Yatra event on June 17 at their temple situated in Gaborone West, Phase 2.
“The festival is an historic event rooted in an inclusive platform of spirituality out from Jagannath Puri in India. The festival was brought to the west in the 60s Srila Prabhupada; the founder acharya for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON),” says one of the event facilitators, Ndiye “Atmatattva Das” Nthoi.
As explained by the Hare Krishna Movement, Ratha Yatra is held in the month of Asadha, which is typically between June and July. The festival represents Lord Jagannatha’s longing to reunite with His dear devotees in Vrindavana, foremost among them, Srimati Radharani.
According to tradition, the Lord gets lovesick once a year just prior to the festival. To cheer him up, His servants arrange for Him to go on a lavish procession to meet up with His devotees.
Lord Jagannatha rides on a grand, three-storey-high chariot, accompanied by thousands of onlookers and marching bands with scores of drummers, singers, and dancers. The festival begins with a huge fanfare of coaches, trumpets, drums and cymbals
With everyone welcome to join in the festivities from the young to the old, Nthoi says the event will include the chariot procession, free vegetarian food, music, dance and cultural displays. He adds that people should anticipate an energetic ceremonious occasion that is refreshing and welcoming.
“Befitting the sentiment of its origins, Ratha Yatras in the Hare Krishna movement also serve as reunions for devotees who come from far and wide to participate, meeting up with old friends around their common goal of serving Lord Jagannatha,” said Sri Krishna.
Ratha Yatra ceremonies are held in many cities around the world, having gained popularity as the famous Hare Krishna festival.