Devotees of the Indian god Krishna are trying to harness the power of their deity to pour oil on South Africa’s troubled waters.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness organised a colourful festival this week in the port city of Durban.

A ten-metre chariot decked out with Hindu deities was hauled through the streets of the city, capital of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the scene of a fierce power struggle between Zulus and supporters of the African National Congress.

A festival of love in a city marked by hatred.

The Festival of the Chariots symbolises peace and harmony and is a chance for Krishna devotees to introduce their beliefs to a wider public.

This is the ninth year the festival has been held in South Africa which presently boasts ten thousand Krishna devotees.

The ten-metre chariot is adorned with Hindu symbols and representations of Lord Krishna, his brother Lord Balaram and his sister Subadara.

A picture of the Hare Krishna founder, His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhudpada, stands side by side with the gods.

The festival organisers hope the festival will accumulate good spiritual vibrations and help to heal the rifts in South African society.

Durban is the capital of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the scene of violent clashes between Zulus and A-N-C supporters.

This festival is to introduce people to the Vedic tradition, the spiritual tradition of India which is actually one of the oldest traditions in the world. This festival is of integral part of the Vedic culture, it’s been going on in India, specifically Jagganath Puri for at least 5,000 years. And the festival itself was brought to the Western countries in 1965 with the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
SUPER CAPTION: Swami Indradumnya Maharaj

For most South Africans it’s a rare glimpse of age-old Vedic culture which was introduced into the Western world in the 1960s.

The festival recalls a popular Hindu myth.

When Lord Krishna left his village five thousand years ago to deal with turbulence in another part of his kingdom his devotees tried to pull him back.

Thus the pulling of the chariot today is symbolic of devotees bringing Lord Krishna back into their hearts.

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