Thousands witness Reading Krishna festival parade

Bystanders looked on as worshippers of Hare Krishna marched through the town centre in a chariot procession with dancing, music and chanting.

The festival culminated in Forbury Gardens with yoga and meditation, dancing, a magic show and gift stalls. 

Festival co-ordinator Nitai Das, who called himself ‘a product of Reading’ predicted that over 7,000 people witnessed or took part in the festival. 

A key part of the festival was the supply of food as part of the Hare Krishna Food for All initiative, which supplies food to the needy. 

Mr Das said: “It was a fluid crowd, we gave out 4,500 free meals in one day in Reading, so no one went hungry.

“During the pandemic, a team of seven fed 27,000 homeless people.

“Things like food, water and shelter should not be monetised, so we make sure people have food in their stomachs and make sure everyone is nourished.

“It’s all free, no one is charging expenses or expecting money, which creates a blissful and spiritual atmosphere, where everyone is coming from a place of love.”

Mr Das was keen to stress that the community-based festival is open to people of all nationalities, regions, faiths, classes and cultures, therefore the festival is not explicitly defined as a Hindu one. 

He explained: “The Hare Krishna movement and practice of Vedic culture is non sectarian, meaning Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims etc. can all come together and benefit from the practice of meditation, bhakti yoga (devotional service), simple living and high thinking.”

The festival took place on Saturday, July 29, with subsequent processions and celebrations taking place in cities and towns across England. 

The Rathayatra Festival will be coming to Newbury on Saturday, August 12 with a chariot procession and yoga and meditation in Victoria Park. 

Hare Krishna worshippers have been increasing their presence in Reading town centre over the last few weekends. 

Speaking about the philosophy of Hare Krishna, Mr Das said: “The only thing lacking in this world is knowledge of the self and knowledge of the soul.

“With this philosophy there is no need for war and animosity.

“All living beings are all one family with one father in the Supreme Lord. 

“With our Food for All initiative, we want to share that with others, in the hope that we can mitigate some of the suffering in this world.” 

The festival will make its way to Slough on Sunday, September 17. 

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre