Birmingham Ratha Yatra Festival coming back to city for 2019 – this is what to expect

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The Birmingham Ratha Yatra Festival is returning to the city for summer 2019.

This year will be the 19th anniversary of the Hindu event in Birmingham.

Ratha Yatra – or the Festival of Chariots – will be held in the city centre on Sunday, July 21.

Organisers said the spectacular procession and festival “incorporates all the exoticness, vitality and colour that is India.”

The 17th Birmingham Ratha Yatra festival in Birmingham City Centre in 2017
The 17th Birmingham Ratha Yatra festival in Birmingham City Centre in 2017

 

As part of the festivities there will be a grand procession of the enormous Jagannatha Chariot at 11am on Sunday from Victoria Square into New Street.

This will be followed by a free festival in Victoria Square at 2pm, with traditional dance, music and drama, meditation area, stalls and a free vegetarian feast.


The Ratha Yatra festival is perhaps the oldest continuously celebrated spiritual festival in the world. 

The huge chariot of Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra is elaborately decorated each year and then pulled by crowds through the city streets. 

People of all nations and faiths are invited to join in what’s billed as a “festival for the soul.”


 

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Mohammed Azim, and the Lady Mayoress, Ms Bushra Bi are confirmed guests.

Birmingham Ratha Yatra Festival is organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a registered charity.

Hundreds of people attend the Birmingham version each year.

The festival involve a public procession with a wooden chariot or ratha carrying representations of the deities Jagannatha (the Lord of the Universe and one of the forms of Krishna), his brother Balarama, his sister Subhadra, plus his weapon Sudarshana Chakra (a spinning disc with serrated edges). The word yatra means a journey.

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Ratha Yatra festivals now take place in more than 100 cities across the globe.

The oldest of the events is at Puri in the Indian state of Odisha, which attracts millions of devotees from India and around the world.

Other annual events in the Hindu calendar include Maha Shivaratri, Holi and Diwali.

Hindus also celebrate Vaisakhi, but for different reasons to Sikhs. For Hindus it is a harvest festival.

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