Procession part of religious festival

CALLY MARTIN
Last updated 11:00 11/01/2014
Hare Krishna
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
SYMBOLIC: Hare Krishna members take a representation of Lord Jagannatha in the traditional chariot in a procession down Trafalgar St. 

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Nelson's 1903 Square was awash with colour and good vibes as Nelson's Hare Krishna community celebrated the Ratha Yatra festival last evening.

The event, hosted by the Hare Krishna community in Motueka, marked the first time one of its kind has been held in Nelson.

Ratha Yatra marks the journey of Lord Jagannatha across India. It is celebrated worldwide and at its spiritual home in Puri, a city in eastern India.

Celebrating the 5000-year-old festival in Nelson began with sitar player Greg Douch.

The evening's festivities were full of singing and dancing, with the hospitable Hare Krishnas making sure everyone had something to eat and drink.

Many in the 300-strong crowd lined up across the square for a free vegetarian meal.

Organiser Sundar Gopal, a senior monk from Singapore, said he was inspired to bring the festival to Nelson after hosting one in Singapore last year for a crowd of 10,000.

He said just attending Ratha Yatra "can wipe away your sins", and in that sense it was "like going to the supermarket and getting a discount."

The main event was the pulling of a chariot down Trafalgar St at the end of the festival.

The chariot represented the journey of Jagannatha, and was decorated with a brightly coloured canopy that was sewn in Puri and sent to Nelson for the festival.

Community member Gokul Chandra said the event was a huge success, and they will be looking to expand in the future.

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- The Nelson Mail

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