10 Jan 2014

Hindu festival in Nelson

7:34 am on 10 January 2014

An ancient Hindu festival is being celebrated in Nelson for the first time on Friday.

Jagannatha Ratha Yatra, the festival of chariots, represents months of work by the local Hare Krishna community.

The group is fusing the cultures of New Zealand and India in the ceremonies by using a century-old bullock cart from nearby Tapawera as the basis for the chariot, with a custom-made canopy from Puri in India.

The festival was to begin at 4.30pm with street performers and traditional Sitar music, followed by a procession of the chariot down Trafalgar Street.

A traditional Indian vegetarian meal would be offered to everyone who attends.

Festival spokesperson Gokul Chandra hopes the festival will become an annual event.