In Durban, the Easter long weekend represents a time of celebration for Hare Krsna devotees as it is time for their world famous annual Ratha Yatra festival. The four day festival took place from 03-06 April and is widely considered to be the largest of its kind outside India. Devotees travelled from all over South Africa to be part of it. There were also many prominent international guests who attended. This was one of the rainiest Ratha Yatra festivals in the last decade which did dampen the attendance but still thousands came.
The festival started-off with the Ratha Yatra itself. As it happens every year, Kadamba Kanana Swami took lead of one of three kirtans that accompanied each of three massive chariots mounted by Their Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra. Singing for three hours under the African sun, in front of Baladeva’s cart, Maharaj had the crowd dancing in ecstasy.
This festival has become famous for many exhibitions that have endured over the years, for example: the main stage cultural entertainment, Q&A tents, an onsite Jagannatha temple and various Govindas food stalls. Some newer features of the festival were the youth tent called Bhakti Cloud and Kirtanuity tent which as the name suggests had ongoing kirtan through the duration of the festival. This year Bhakti Marg Swami directed the local youth in two dramas called Blue Mystic and Sati.
Just as it started, the festival ended with a Ratha Yatra procession on Monday night and an ecstatic final kirtan. There are many pictures in the slide-show below trying to capture the spirit of this wonderful event.
I am grateful to the following devotees who assisted with taking recordings and photos: Vibhu Caitanya das, Bhadra Balaram Das, Merumala dd and Nicole.
Visit flickr to see all the pics.
A wonderful set of photos was taken by Indradyumna Swami which has been posted to Facebook. Click here to view.