Ratha Yatra: festival in Northdale

2010-04-21 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG residents have been invited to a Ratha Yatra festival, which is set to take place on April 24.

The ancient Indian festival, which has its roots in the seaside town of Puri in the Bay of Bengal, will see about 400 people take to the streets of Northdale as they pull a lavishly decorated carriage from the Debi Market to the Aryan Hall.

The carriage will house the deity Lord Jagannath and his siblings, Lord Balabhadra and the goddess Subhadra.

Organiser Rasamrta Devi Dasi said the festival should be a celebration for everyone, not just the Indian community. “Vedic culture belongs to everyone and all are welcome. It is not a Hindu thing; this festival is about eternal spirituality,” she said.

The festival is expected to be full of colour and drama, with fresh flowers and symbols of beauty adorning the carriage. “Everything will be befitting the deities who will travel along the streets to greet and bless the people,” Rasamrta said.

“Yatra” means “to travel”.

According to Indian religious teachings, those who pull the ropes that will be attached to the carriage will receive blessings.

Once the procession has arrived at the Aryan Hall, the organisers confirm, religious discourse will be facilitated by respected international leaders.

There will also be food, singing and dancing on offer for the participants.

Although Ratha Yatra is an important festival on the Indian calendar, organisers have stressed that the festival will be open to all. “Everybody is welcome; the blessings are for everyone,” said Rasamrta.

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