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Hindu festival celebrated for first time
A Hindu festival has been celebrated in the borough for the first time.
Devotees pulled three chariots from Queensbury Park to the Shree Swaninarayan Temple in Stanmore on Sunday as part of Rath Yatra Utsav, which honours the Hindu god Lord Jagannath.
There was a special prayer service at the Wood Lane temple, followed by a feast for all who took part.
It was the first time the festival had been celebrated on the streets of Harrow, with celebrations organised by Dharma Bhakti Manor Stanmore and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Festival organiser Chetan Vekaria said: "Over 150 volunteers took part in making this event a success. Without the volunteers a grand procession like this would be difficult to organise. The Temple would like to thank them very much for their ongoing support and Seva."
Priya Varsani, a youth at the temple, said: "Singing and dancing to the Maha Mantra accompanied by musical instruments was really enjoyable. My service towards the Lord was to sing the Maha Mantra throughout which created a peaceful and joyous atmosphere on the procession route. It was also really good to see the young children get involved and pull the chariot throughout. Giving young children this opportunity allows them to understand and celebrate
the Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism) festivals."
Uma Kumaran, the Labour Party's parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, was among politicians invited. She said: "It was an immense honour to have been part of this procession and to have been invited to pull and guide the chariot through the streets of Harrow for the first time. As a Hindu it meant a great deal to me to be able to celebrate this festival with hundreds of other worshippers.
"What was especially meaningful was seeing residents of all races and religions stop to take photos, join in and cheer the procession along. It was a treat to tell people that this festival is the reason behind the English word ‘juggernaut’ - meaning unstoppable force, which is what Lord Jagannath represents."