London 40th Article
By Chakra-nadi dasi
The colourful festival of Rathayatra took place in London for the 40th time in 2008.
Over four thousand people joined the procession for this special occasion.
Warm sunshine (rain had been predicted) accompanied the chanting parties as they made their way through London in front of the three magnificent chariots.
Many devotees commented on how wonderful Lord Jaganntha, Baladeva and Lady Subhadra looked in their bright new outfits, which were made by the devotees of the London temple especially for the day.
The three fifty foot high chariots, bedecked in hundreds of bright garlands and mirror decorations, amazed many onlookers as they proceeded through London.
At Trafalgar Square twenty thousand people took part in the festivities and savoured the feast, which was expertly cooked and managed by Parasurama who was assisted by volunteers at Bhaktivedanta manor.
There is however, an inside story behind this Rathayatra festival.
A dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteers make it all happen.
Titiksu dasa, who is the festival coordinator and has been looking after the chariots since 1984, launched a marathon this year because Lady Subhadra needed a new chariot.
After all Lord Jagannatha and Lord Baladeva had new chariots built in 2004, and since then the London Rathayatra has had three chariots.
This meant that Lady Subhadra was still riding on the original, twenty six year old chariot.
This year’s chariot building marathon lasted two months, and at the end of it the Rathayatra volunteers presented an amazing new chariot for Lady Subhadra.
The team worked with great commitment and devotion. Many of the volunteers such as Tusta Krsna, Satya Narayana, Damodar Krsna and Terry had to fit this service around their other employment.
The wheels on the chariots are specially commissioned. They are made by Her Majesty the Queen’s wheelwrights who employ the traditional methods of steaming and bending wood. This ensures that the enormous wheels are very strong and durable, as well as looking beautiful.
Meanwhile, at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Titiksu and Varsana dasi had masterminded a special cake to mark the 40th Rathayatra festival.
Anuradha devi dasi baked several fruitcakes. After the baking she secretly got to work in the library with a group of artists to make each cake into a display of Rathayatra pastimes, in special three dimensional sugar forms.
The artistic cakes were a big attraction at Trafalgar Square where the main organisers, and the dignitaries, including Maha visnu swami, Jaya Pataka Maharaja, Rancor dasa, Gauri dasa, Titiksu das and Varsana dasi cut them to commemorate the special day.