Vi­brant fes­ti­val brings bless­ings

The Northern Advocate - - Local News - Mikaela Collins

Mayor Sh­eryl Mai may not be the king but she still swept the streets to clear the way for deities as they trav­elled through Whanga¯rei giv­ing bless­ings.

The colour­ful Ratha Ya­tra Fes­ti­val — a sig­nif­i­cant Hare Krishna fes­ti­val — saw about 190 peo­ple pa­rade through Whanga¯rei on Satur­day while pulling a char­iot car­ry­ing three deities — Lord Ja­gan­nath, Lord Baladeva and Sub­hadra Devi — who be­stowed bless­ings on the res­i­dents of Whanga¯rei and all those for­tu­nate to see them.

Bud­dhi Wil­cox, fes­ti­val spokesman, said this year’s event was “re­ally good”.

“Ev­ery year we try to build it a lit­tle more,” he said.

“It went well, the weather was nice and it went smoothly.”

The an­cient fes­ti­val sym­bol­ises the one day of the year where the deities come out of the tem­ple into their king­dom and give bless­ings while trav­el­ling on a char­iot pulled around by peo­ple.

Wil­cox said tra­di­tion­ally the king of the land also comes out and clears the path for the deities. While Whanga¯rei does not have a king, Mayor Sh­eryl Mai stood in the front of the char­iot with a broom to do the same job. Wil­cox said Mai was sup­port­ive of the fes­ti­val and also wanted to see it grow.

“There were pre­dom­i­nantly mem­bers of the Hare Krishna com­mu­nity there, but it’s for ev­ery­body,” he said.

Wil­cox said the Ratha Ya­tra Fes­ti­val be­gan thou­sands of years ago in In­dia but was in­tro­duced to the West about 50 years ago by a guru named AC Bhak­tivedanta Swami Prab­hu­pada, and is now held around the world.

It is the sixth time the fes­ti­val — which started at Food for Life in Wa­ter St, pro­ceeded through the city and ended with a feast in Cafler Park — has hap­pened in Whanga¯rei.

Bud­dhi Wil­cox, fes­ti­val spokesman, said about 190 peo­ple took part in the fes­ti­val.

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