Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine

St. Augustine Festival of Chariots Event Schedule:

10:30 am – Chariot procession starts from St. George Street and Cathedral Place and continues until 12:00 pm (noon) along the following route:

Chariot Procession route: Begins heading West on Cathedral Place, turning right (North) on Cordova St., then right (East) on Orange St., and right (South) on San Marco Ave. to complete upon return to Cathedral Place, just opposite the Bridge of Lions.

1:00 pm – Chanting procession along St. George Street – Chanting and Dancing party travels north up to the Old City Gates and returns back to the Plaza de la Constitucion.

2:30 pm – Cultural Program at The Gazebo / Plaza de la Constitucion.

Cultural Program features:

• Live Kirtan Music – mantras, drumming, cymbals, flutes
• Drama – The Golden Age
• Dance – Indian Classical Dancers – Bharatanatyam, Odissi

• Free Vegetarian Feast
• Henna body art / Face-painting
• Flower Garland Making

• Books of Vedic Philosophy & Culture – Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Brahma-Samhita, Isopanishad

Festival of Chariots – St. Augustine

Saint Augustine, as one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the United States, is home to a rich history, diverse culture and cosmopolitain values. It is a befitting place for the Festival of Chariots to be held, as one of the oldest continuously held multicultural festivals in the world.

The founding fathers of the United States wrote in the declaration of independence that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Over the course of the past 241 years there have been many challenges to these ideals. In these times of uncertainty between nations, races, classes and cultures, a common platform for equality is needed, to inspire humanity towards peace, freedom and friendship.

From an external point of view, there is nothing equal about anyone. Everyone is completely unique. What is equal is our personal spiritual value. Our value is as a living spirit soul, distinct from the material body. Our bodies change from childhood to youth to old age, and disintegrate at death, but the self lives on eternally, as understood by the ancient seers of the truth.

The human form of life awards one the opportunity to inquire into the destiny of the soul after death, and understand the nature of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and our relationship with Him. Yes the cause of all causes, the Absolute Truth is personal, and can be known to those who love Him. When we experience the love of the Lord of the Universe through service, we recognize our own intrinsic personal spiritual value, and automatically recognize and honor the same value in all other living beings.

“He who sees systematically everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or any being.” – Śrī Īśopaniṣad, Mantra Six

The Festival of Chariots (Rathayatra) is the celebration of inviting into our hearts the Lord of the Universe (Sri Krishna – the All-Attractive One / Sri Jagannatha – the Master of the Universe) of Whom we are all a part. By offering a little service to the Lord, we can awaken our dormant love for Him within us. By watering the root of the tree all the branches are nourished. Similarly when service is given to the Lord of the Universe, all living beings become satisfied. This is known as Bhakti-Yoga, connection to the Lord through devotional service.

By singing, dancing, cooking, feasting, decorating and having meaningful discussions about the glories and beauty of the Lord and His presence in our lives, we find a common platform for achieving peace, friendship and lasting happiness.

Let us leave a legacy for future generations, that as we come together to celebrate the joy of loving one another as God’s children, regardless of age, race, religion, caste or creed, we invite our children to cross the boundaries that have kept the world apart from one another, and fulfill the aspirations of all those who have believed in the prospect of the United States of America as the land of the free and home of the brave, to live our lives, liberally giving the gift of transcendental love freely to everyone we meet.

Please come and experience for yourself this great festival of loving service, by pulling the ropes of the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, honoring the delicious, free, transcendentally sanctified feast, and dancing together in spiritual bliss.

The Festival of Chariots will be held on Saturday, April 8th 2017. The Chariot pulling procession will begin at 10:30am at the intersection of St. George Street and Cathedral Place. Following the Chariot procession from 1-2pm there will be a singing and dancing procession through the old city on St. George Street, culminating at 2pm at the Plaza de la Constitution where there will be held a cultural program of dancing, music, philosophy, and free vegetarian feast.

For more information on the St. Augustine Festival of Chariots and other festivals held throughout Florida visit www.FestivalofChariots.org

by: Radha Madhava Dasa for Florida Festival of Chariots March 17th, 2017