Written by Nicole Counts
Walking to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, while crossing an intersection, part of a street is blocked off for a large parade. Chimes on top of a soundtrack, chants in a different language, and feet stomping in excitement fill the Philadelphia air. Vibrant colors, hundreds of people dressed in native outfits, and smiles of thrill lead the parade toward the grass lawns across from The Museum of Art.
Intrigued by this demonstration, I follow the crowd into the walkway leading up to Eakin’s Circle where there are at least 20 tents. Each tent has a different object for purchases. Dresses, bindis, bags, jewelry, scarves, prayer beads, vegetarian and vegan Indian dishes, everything associated with the Indian culture.
I had stumbled upon Philadelphia Ratha Yatra and Festival of India, also known as the Krishna’s Bhakti Fest. The parade I had walked into was the Parade of Chariots, a celebration that happens yearly, where the participants pull a chariot, while chanting Holy God’s names, in honor of their Supreme Gods. The celebration consists of music, drama, a vegetarian feast, tents with traditional Indian clothes and jewelry for sale, discussions, and a place where believers can come together and rejoice.
This exuberant festival not only brought to light the Indian culture, it brought knowledge to onlookers like myself. Not only sparking interest, it connects with people who are not knowledgeable about he Indian culture by connecting people through art. Their expression of culture, through the art of drama, food, fashion, literature, connects people in some way and their vigorous colors draw in even the most distant of onlookers. Each attribute of the culture was not only fascinating, it was beautiful to see people come together in such a lively way.