London Rathayatra

London Rathayatra now confirmed for Sunday 4th September 2022

This year’s Rathayatra falls on 4th of Sept. This is the only day the authorities could give us. It also happens to be Radhastami, the divine appearance day of Srimati Radharani, the eternal consort of Sri Krishna.

There is one history connecting Srimati Radharani to Rathayatra.

In India it is customary to go to a holy place at the time of a solar eclipse. It so happened 5000 years ago. Krishna’s friends from Vrindavan, the gopis and gopas, along with all their cows went to the holy place of Kurukshetra. Sri Krishna, who was the King of Dwarka at that time, also came to Kurukshetra. When the gopis and gopas, headed by Sri Radha, heard that Krishna had arrived, with His brother Balarama and sister Subhadra, they ran to see Them. Finding Them still on Their chariots, they spontaneously “stole” Them, and pulled the chariots to where they had set up camp. This was the very first Rathayatra, and was lead by Srimati Radharani!    

Please come to Rathayatra and help us share the Holy Name and prasadam with the people of London.

London Rathayatra Route Map
London Rathayatra Route Map

When you get to Trafalgar Square please remember to take advantage of free water and the free vegetarian food.

Most of all come and enjoy being in the company of Lord Jagannatha and His devotees.

The London chariots are not only used in London, but throughout the summer at rathayatras in Birmingham, Leicester, Cardiff, Brighton, Dublin and Belfast, and also Budapest (Hungary) and Paris.

As you can imagine, the chariots get a lot of wear. Myself, and a small team of devotees are taking advantage of this downtime to do much needed maintenance. Restoring worn paintwork, replacing cracked or broken timbers, and making new canopies. We built Jagannatha’s and Baladeva’s chariots in 2004.  I was fortunate enough to have been invited to help build what is now Subhadra’s chariot in 1982. This was used for all three Deities until we got permission for two more in 2004.

There is an interesting story about how that permission came about.  In 2000 I was asked to manage the festival. Previously from 1984, I had been looking after the chariot.  We started fundraising for the festival that year, and to our surprise we more than covered the expenses. The next year the same thing happened, and the next. I was beginning to wonder, “What does Jagannatha want? He’s sending all this laxmi.”  The next year, the Dept of Culture, Media and Sport held a consultation meeting for all the users of Trafalgar Square. They unveiled a model of the square with the top section joined to the National Gallery by a terrace. I thought to myself that this would be an ideal place for 3 chariots. Previously the square was an island with 4 lanes of traffic on all sides and we had to put the chariot next to Nelson’s Column where there would be no room for 3 chariots.  The next thing that happened was the police asked us to come for a meeting to discuss how many chariots we would be having. “How many chariots?” This was very strange. Usually we had to approach them.  For the previous 3 years I had been joking with the police inspector about having 3 chariots on the plea that it would make the procession more manageable. Of course, it wouldn’t. But that was the running joke. And every year the inspector would say “No. There is too much chaos with one. I will never give permission for 3.”  So, myself and my good friend Parama Karuna went to meet with the inspector. He asked, “How many chariots are you having this year.”  I said, “Well, one.”  He replied, as if it was his own idea, “I think you should have 3 because it will make the procession more manageable”.  We nearly fell off our chairs. So Jagannatha set up the whole thing. He sent the funds, arranged for Trafalgar Square to be changed to accommodate 3 chariots and changed the mind of the inspector!

Jaganatha’s chariot has now done 10 rathayatras nearly every year since 2004. That’s almost 160 in total!  As well as building chariots for Jagannatha and Baladeva in 2004, we also rebuilt the 1982 chariot in 2006, which is now Subhadra’s.

Rathayatra 2019 Hyde Park
click on the image above to view the full slideshow

Rathayatra is celebrated all over the world. Huge wooden carts are pulled by hand in a grand procession by pilgrims and devotees. High up on the carts are Deities of Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra. After the procession there’s a beautiful celebration festival with a feast, kirtan and bhajana, transcendental book distribution and more.

All year round a person needs to go to the temple to see the Lord but at Rathayatra the Lord comes out for the day.

Rathayatra is completely non-sectarian. Everyone is welcome and no-one is excluded.

Three Rath Carts on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square
Three ‘Rath’ Carts on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square

Expect to experience lots of colour, sound and dance at this unique festival.

Please feel free to join in with the chanting of;

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

And be happy.

When you get to the end of the procession please remember to take advantage of free water and the free vegetarian food.

Most of all come and enjoy being in the company of Lord Jagannatha and His devotees.

Ever wondered why chant Hare Krishna?

Learn about Krishna consciousness

Bhagavad-gita As It Is
Bhagavad-gita As It Is

Take a look at the Bhagavad-gita As It Is by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Practical transcendental knowledge from the master. All you need to know about matter, spirit, the creator, the soul and more.