Lord JagannathFestival of Chariots

On Saturday at 10.30am, from Prince Edward Street, three 15 metre high chariots festooned with thousands of flower and fruit garlands, bearing deities of Lord Jagannath, Lady Subhadra and Lord Baladeva will be hauled by  jubilant devotees as they tug at the ropes.  The parade will weave its way pass City Hall, along the South Beach and then north on  the Marine Parade, finally coming to rest at the festival grounds at the Pavilion site on the North Beach (former Military Museum).

And on Sunday at 3pm, Go-puja (worship of the cow) and an "Aniyor" festival shall be held on the beachfront.  Devotees shall build a replica of Govardhan Hill (located in Northern India and famous for having been lifted by Lord Krishna like an umbrella to provide shelter to his devotees from torrential rain).  The "hill" shall be built from tons of semolina pudding and handmade chocolates, biscuits and  sweetmeats shall be shaped to replicate the rocks, trees and other features of the hill. 

A Govardhan sila (auspicious rock from Govardhan Hill brought from India and  worshipped by devotees) shall be placed on top of the hill whilst devotees circumambulate offer prayers and gifts in the form of vegetarian foods, sweetmeats, ghee and milk products to Govardhan.

A second chariot parade which will take place on Monday at 5pm starting from the festival grounds and ending at the Bay of Plenty on the Lower Marine Parade.  For the first time ever there will be three chariots on this parade. From the apex of the domes of the canopies to the base of the cart, thousands of twinkling fairy lights will glitter as bystanders take in this awesome sight of devotees heaving and tugging at the ropes, drawing the Lord into their hearts.  

On all four days there shall be non-stop cultural entertainment. Various local and international performers such as Kumari Ambigay, Tansen Nepaul showband, Kannan Veeramani (India), Veena Lutchman, Silk Road Bhajan band (Kazakhstan), Natyakalanjali dancers and students of kathak exponent Manesh Maharaj are set to enthrall the audiences.  
His Holiness Bhakti Marg Swami from Canada will once again arrive in the country especially to produce and direct dramas for the event.  Over the years his special style of presentation, exquisite costumes, sound effects, dialogues, action scenes and movement pieces have gained immense appreciation from the festival attendees.  

The cultural entertainment stage promises to be a feast of song, dance and drama.

Moreover visitors will also be spoilt for choice as they browse around more than 30 tents which shall be home to clothing bazaars, art & craft fair, spiritual literature, restaurants, video shows, traditional religious music, Vedic make-up, etc.  Of special interest will be the on site temple where the deities will reside for the festival and the public is welcome  to perform worship.  The cooking demonstration tent will play host to popular newspaper columnist Asha Maharaj who will demonstrate the finer aspects of sweetmeat making and vegetarian cooking.  Alan Worhnitz, a nutritional researcher will also be present presenting talks on very relevant and informative topics such as "Nutrition and the heart", "Ensuring maximum energy levels for optimised attention and studying."

The cow protection arena will enlighten visitors about the value of taking care of the cow who is regarded as a mother and worshipped by devotees of Lord Krishna.

A unique feature of this year's festival is the launch of the New Nandagram project.  This farming project aims on encouraging everyone to appreciate Mother Nature and to lead a much more simpler and healthier life.  With the worldwide economic recession and spiralling food prices, the Hare Krishna movement wants to showcase how it's founder's statement of "simple living and high thinking" can become a reality.  The displays at the festival will provide guidance to visitors on how to begin their own vegetable patches, assist the environment and leave more cash in ones pocket! 

International leaders of the Hare Krishna movement from as far afield as U.S.A., New Zealand, England and India are also scheduled to present talks and answer questions in the "Question and Answer" booths. 

There shall be spectacular aerial fireworks displays on Friday and Monday evening.

The festival promises to be Durban's premier event over the Easter weekend.



Durban, North Beach: April 10-13
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of Chariots


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