Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Feast of Rathayatra at Trafalgar Square

... man at the top of the chariot ...
... chariot #1 by Canada House ...
Hanging out all day around Charing Cross Road meant that I would get into the National Gallery a few times – since I love the 2:30 pm Taster Tour, at the very least, which was a joy again.

The tour included Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks, and Titians, The Death of Acteon.

Of course, we looked at some Turner, some Thomson and finished off with the Impressionists.

I would have been able to stand on my feet longer, if I had reached the spot where I had intended to rest.

But on my travels to a quiet bench in the Sainsbury Wing I had to go outside where I encountered a big parade celebrating the Festival of Chariots.

... parade participants ...
I also found a way to enjoy the Feast of Rathayatra.

I didn’t know I would see the day when I could go to Trafalgar square, get into a line-up, be handed a styrofoam dish and a plastic spoon and then be served with a delicious vegetarian meal.

There were 6 line-ups and not a minute waiting for the food – two fabulous dahls, some delicious rice, a sweet yogurt sauce – all of which led me back home to look up the recipes for this feast.

There were banners from every country and in every language.
  This one from the U.S.
I spend more time reading recipes than making them lately – and everything sounds delicious – the turmeric in the water, the green peas, the poppy seeds added when the rice is finished cooking.

The meal was fantastic and I was looking for where to pay – but no charge to anyone and Trafalgar filled with people eating food.

The festival includes three chariots being pulled in a parade.

Chant on Red Jacket
People were dancing and clapping their finger cymbals, incense burning on the float was wafting to the street corner where I stood.

People were laying themselves prostate on the ground in front of the dignitaries on the floats.

The chant for the parade participants was Hare Krshna, Hare Krshna, Hare, Hare, Krshna, Krshna, etc.

Besides taking pictures, I was practising the words with paraders, trying to see if I could get the right intonation and rhythm.

It wasn't until I was sorting my pictures that I noticed that this red jacket has the Hare Krishna words written on the back of it.

Hare Krishna missionaries were everywhere -- handing out pamphlets, inviting people to talk with them, to ask question, to take literature that was more in-depth than simple pamphlets.
The ropes packed back into the chariot.
The chariot now hand pulled to its place
in front of the National Gallery.
The three chariots that are always seen at this festival were pulled by heavy ropes until Canada house.

Then the ropes were laid down in a pattern of many squares and people leaped into the middle of the squares, prostrating themselves on the pavement, before the people who were riding in the floats.


There was beautiful costuming everywhere -- especially on this little girl carrying her flute.

I stopped to watch the dancers as well, who were in the middle of the square -- two of them with rhythms that I am not used to -- especially for me, watching their feet, their bare feet move to make the body gestures as they wished it to.

I was interested in everything that was going on.

I was watching a professional photographer outside of Canada House leaping up and down off of a platform, trying to get good pictures.

Then he would get himself right into the crowd and take pictures head-on, before the crowd enveloped him again.

I am not that agile and just leaned against a post, enjoying the parade as it went by.

... 3 chariots at rest ...
So my day’s events which were only loosely planned now quadrupled: the Rathayatra Feast, the Festival of Chariots, the tour through the National Gallery and Jersey Boys.

I did enjoy lining up the three chariots, the church of St.Martin's in the Fields, the pillars on the front of the National Gallery and the lamp post in my view finder.

All I purchased today was a new 2012 Handy Guide to London, having lost my 2005 edition.

The incense is wafting upward from its wand
which is on the float about at this man's shoulder
I would take that purchase to mean that I am coming back to London in the fall.

Arta

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