Johannesburg - As Heritage Month in South Africa comes to an end, the Festival of Chariots is set to take place in Soweto this weekend.
The ancient Vedic festival, which initially took place in Jagannath Puri in the state of Orissa in India and now has its footprint all over the world, is being hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Also known as the Ratha Yatra Festival, commemorations are set to commence today (Saturday) at the AME Church site. It will then travel through Orlando West and into the historic Vilakazi Street precinct.
During the festival, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subadra Devi will be placed on a colourful chariot which will be bedecked with flowers as it glides through the streets of Soweto.
Essentially, this festival is one of colour and vibrance, bringing people from all walks of life together in peace and harmony, organisers explained.
“This event is a synergy of music, dance, arts and culture and unique in its presentation and inclusive spirit.”
Meanwhile, the chariot procession is estimated to end at 4pm with distribution of warm, wholesome, free vegetarian meals.
In addition, local and international guests are also set to attend the Ratha Yatra Festival. This includes His Holiness Indradyumna Swami from the US who will also actively participate in this procession. His Holiness Bhakti Nrsimha Swami from Africa will also be at the event and the Governing Body Commissioner of ISKCON in South Africa, His Holiness Bhakti Caitanya Swami will be in attendance.
Event organisers believe that the Festival of Chariots is the perfect way to celebrate and culminate Heritage month.
“It showcases the true spirit of Africa and the melting pot of cultures in our area,” they said. “Soweto will come to life with chants and dancing promoting peace and love for each other and ultimately for God.”
The festival is free for people from all walks of life to attend.