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Inspired by HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, celebrated the festival of RATH YATRA with great pomp and devotion. Over 3000 devotees young and old joined in the festivities.
The Yatra set off at 3pm from the Alperton Community School in Stanley Avenue, Alperton. After the chanting of shaantipath by Sadhus. The procession was led by the sanstha’s marching band from Leicester. Pujya Atmaswarup Swami, the mahant, carried Thakorji and was accompanied by other sadhus and Pujya Gnanpriya Swami and Pujya Priyavrat Swami who had flown in from India in the morning on their way to America.
This first group also had some balaks (young boys) dressed in traditional costumes dancing and others carrying banners depicting the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Children’s Wing established by Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj in 1954.
As the procession made it’s way up Ealing Road it was joined by the Rath (chariot) carrying Akshar Purushottam Maharaj and HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the current spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Behind this float were a group of kishores (teenage boys) who performed traditional dances along the entire route.
The second Rath carried Lord Jagannathji and was followed by balikas (young girls), kishoris (teenage girls) and the rest of the ladies wing.
Soon the whole of Ealing Road was awash with colour and the melodious sounds of different groups singing bhajans (religious songs). Thousands of people gathered throughout the route to witness this glorious spectacle especially the beautifully crafted Raths, which resembled chariots from a long gone era.
The Raths made their way along Wembley High Road, Harrow Road and arrived back at the Mandir at 6pm.