Chariot Festival in Budapest – The power of music brings us together

Fodor Angol, NEWS

For the 28th time this year, the chariot of Kṛṣṇa returns to Budapest for the Ratha-yātrā Chariot Festival on Saturday, 29 June. The festival consists of two main parts, the first is a music and dance parade through the city centre, and the second is an all-day Indian-themed outdoor festival in the City Park.

Parade-goers will pull a huge, ornate, hand-drawn chariot along the road, on which a particularly lovely and smiling form of Kṛṣṇa, God, will ride and look around the city. According to ancient Indian tradition, pulling Kṛṣṇa’s chariot removes obstacles and harmful reactions from people’s lives and brings good fortune. At the chariot’s arrival point, another thrill awaits as the all-day India Festival takes place in the City Park. Anyone can join the chariot procession and the festive procession, regardless of religion, and the activities in the City Park offer fun for young and old, for the youth as well as for grandparents and families.
The chariot procession starts at 2pm and goes from Vörösmarty Square via Andrássy Avenue to Városliget. The festive procession will include musicians, dancers, drummers, singers and will be led by an ox cart from Kṛṣṇa Valley. The extraordinary, colourful procession and sacred melodies create a joyful atmosphere.

Light programme, deep teachings
Every human being is an eternal soul in search of happiness, and the nature of the soul is to be always joyful, singing, dancing and filled with a sense of exuberant joy. The Festival of Chariots helps us to forget the struggles of everyday life for a while and return to our true selves. The Festival of Chariots is about love, devotion, care and the power of community between God and man, where the power of the music and the mantra truly brings us together.

From noon to 10pm, the India Festival is open to all in City Park, by the lake – the chariot’s arrival point. The India Festival will feature traditional Indian music and dance, a fascinating stage show, workshops, community jam sessions, henna painting, Indian produce stalls, yoga demonstrations and yogic philosophy talks. In the restaurant tent, lovers of gastronomy and flavours will be treated to vegan delicacies and main courses, refreshments and desserts with Indian, Mediterranean and Hungarian flavours. At the Temple Tent, anyone can offer incense or flowers to Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe, the main protagonist of the event. For families with young children, there will be face painting, a bouncy castle and children’s activities, and they will also be welcome to pet the oxen from Kṛṣṇa Valley. And from 7pm until closing time, the Kirtan Fest mantra concert will crown the day, and all activities are free to attend!

The tradition of the Ratha-yātrā Chariot Festival originates from the Indian city of Puri in the state of Orissa and is over 5,000 years old, making it the oldest festival on Earth. Here, the forms of Kṛṣṇa, or Jagannātha (Lord of the Universe) as He is called in Puri, and His Brother Baladeva and sister Subhadrā are placed on huge chariots and taken to another temple for a visit, pulling Their chariots along the main street of the city. Some 15 million people join the festive procession every year!

The Festival of Chariots is a special event, come and experience it for yourself! God loves Everybody so much that this time He Himself is coming out of the temple to meet them. Tradition says that those who pull the chariot ropes will surely reach Him. As part of the festival, people of different religions, economic or family backgrounds will walk as one before the chariot of the Lord, expressing that God’s children cannot be divided by any worldly denomination or descent.

First organised outside India in San Francisco in 1967 by Śrīla Prabhupāda, the founder-acharya of the worldwide movement of Kṛṣṇa devotees, the festival has since become well-known  and part of the parrt of cultural diversity in cities around the world.

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