About Festival of India
The Festival of India has taken place in Toronto for over 40 years, yet its rich history actually stems from thousands of years of tradition and heritage. The festival begins with a vibrant parade down Yonge Street in which three giant floats are hand-pulled by thousands of attendees and spectators amidst melodious singing, chanting, drumming, and dancing.
Everyone is invited to come walk, chant, sing or dance in the parade. Celebrations then continue throughout the weekend at Centre Island.
The parade down Yonge Street echoes an annual procession that has occurred for centuries in the ancient city of Puri, India. There, three mammoth chariots, known as rathas are taken on a jubilant procession, called a yatra. Hence, the Festival is also known as Ratha-Yatra or “chariot procession”. In Puri, this age-old Ratha-Yatra procession continues to attract over a million people every year!
Seated on each float (chariot) are beautifully bedecked Deities of Jagannatha (another name for Krishna or God), Baladeva (Krishna’s brother), and Subhadra (Krishna’s sister). The procession itself symbolizes the pulling of the Lord into our hearts and thus is done with great pomp and grandeur.
In the late 1960s, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the worldwide Hare Krishna Society (ISKCON), inaugurated the North American and international versions of this ancient Indian festival. With roots steeped in spiritual traditions, the festival is now celebrated in every major city around the world, including London, Paris, Sydney, and New York.
The annual Festival of India is organized by the Toronto chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON Toronto). For over 40 years, ISKCON Toronto has been the hub of a rich, vibrant and enthusiastic community. The organization has helped share the teachings of ancient, spiritual India and has been a resource for tens of thousands of people who have sought to learn more about self-development, mantra meditation, yoga, vegetarianism and more.
Aside from the organization of the annual Festival of India, ISKCON Toronto also regularly conducts programs for youth empowerment, community care and a “Food for Life” program involving regular outreach to the underprivileged via the distribution of hot vegetarian meals. Internationally speaking, ISKCON is a worldwide confederation of more than 400 centres, including 60 farm communities, 50 schools and 90 restaurants.
For more information, please go to: www.torontokrishna.com