Every year Hare Krishna Melbourne celebrates eighteen major festivals by offering special services to our Deities. We increase the fun by inviting everyone to participate and chant, dance and feast with us.

Find schedules for upcoming festivals and more about each celebration below.

The Festival of Chariots, Ratha-yatra

When: 1st Sunday in February (Festival Sunday of the St. Kilda Festival)

Where: Catani Gardens, St. Kilda

Agenda: pulling the chariot from Cleve Gardens to Luna Park and back to Catani Gardens (with chanting, dancing and distribution of treats); Vegetarian/Vegan Food Festival in Catani Gardens, including stage programs (dance, music, drama, children’s plays), and vegan/vegetarian eat-in or take-away.

Ratha-yatra, the Festival of the Chariots, is the oldest continuously celebrated spiritual festival in the world.

As far back as human records and memory extend – to the delight of millions of joyous pilgrims – each summer, in the town of Puri (on the Bay of Bengal in India), the splendidly decorated chariots of Lord Jagannatha have rolled.

Their towering red-and-blue silken canopies rise into the sky as drums and cymbals resound in celebration. People both young and old, their eyes bright with excitement, sing and dance in the street.

Beginning with San Francisco (USA) over forty years ago, Hare Krishnas have brought this tradition to the streets of cities all around the world.

The first time Melbourne hosted the Festival of the Chariots was in the 1970s. Fifty years later this ancient celebration returns to Melbourne as part of the famous St Kilda Festival. You can enjoy this unique festival to your heart’s content!

Visit our website – The Festival of Chariots

The Swing Festival, Jhulana-yatra

Jhulana 2021

When: four to five evenings in August-September

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: swinging the festival deities of Radha and Krishna on a beautifully decorated jhulana (swing).

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): we’ll celebrate Jhulana-yatra from 7 pm nightly from Thursday, Aug 19 to Sunday, Aug 22.*
Limited bookings will be available in the week leading up to the festival on the ISKCON Melbourne Darshan app.
Join our livestream at bit.ly/hkmlive from 7 pm.
*Schedules may change in response to COVID-19 regulations.
This information is valid at 6.7.21. Watch for updates closer to the day.

About: Just like Snana-yatra in December, Jhulana-yatra offers us a special opportunity to personally serve the Deities. These few evenings are cherished because we step forward in groups of families and friends to swing Radha and Krishna and give Them pleasure. Other than this time, only qualified priests are allowed to serve Them.

During Jhulana-yatra, we celebrate Krishna’s loving pastimes with His topmost devotee, Srimati Radharani, in Vraja. If you travel to Radha Kunda in Govardhana (south of Delhi in India), you will find a permanent Jhulana commemorating this pastime.

Swing festival

Balarama's Birthday, Balarama Purnima

Balarama Purnima

When: August-September

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: bathing the festival deities of Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra; chanting, dancing, feast.

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): we’ll celebrate Balarama Purnima on Sunday, Aug 22. *
7:00am Deity Greeting
7:30am Class
11:00am Deity Bathing, Chanting
12:30pm Arati
Limited bookings will be available in the week leading up to the festival on the ISKCON Melbourne Darshan app.
Join our live stream of the programs at bit.ly/hkmlive.
*Schedules may change in response to COVID-19 regulations.
This information is valid at 6.7.21. Watch for updates closer to the day.

About: Lord Balarama (Baladeva) appears in Vrindavana as Krishna’s elder brother, His ‘second body’. Balarama assists in Lord Krishna’s innumerable spiritual pastimes in both the spiritual and material realms. He is described as a symbol of strength, an obedient son, an ideal brother and husband, an ideal man. Balarama is said to have a whitish complexion and to wear blue cloth. The Vedas tell us that Balarama is the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Balarama usually wields a plough to till the land and a mace for battle.

Krishna's Birthday, Janmastami

Janmastami

When: August-September

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: bathing the festival deities of Radha and Krishna; extended Deity darshanas, chanting, dancing, feast.

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): we’ll celebrate Janmastami on Monday, Aug 30. *
4:30am Mangalarati
7:00am Deity Greeting
7:30am Class
5:30pm Booked Deity Darshanas
7.00pm Arati
7.30pm Abhisheka & Kirtan
9.00pm Arati & Kirtan
Midnight Arati & Kirtan
Limited bookings will be available in the week leading up to the festival on the ISKCON Melbourne Darshan app.
Join our live stream of the programs at bit.ly/hkmlive.
*Schedules may change in response to COVID-19 regulations.
This information is valid at 6.7.21. Watch for updates closer to the day.

About: Janmastami is by far our biggest festival of the year. Pre-COVID, we hosted thousands of guests throughout the day. For now, we are limited to booked darshanas and live broadcasts.

We understand that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He appeared in Vrindavana (south of Delhi in India) to please His devotees, to attract everyone to His transcendental pastimes, and to re-establish the principles of religion. Krishna is famous for His sweet pastimes as a cowherd boy, as the killer of many demons, the lover of Srimati Radharani, and as the King of Dwaraka (Jagannatha).

Our Founder's Birthday, Vyasa-puja

Vyasa puja

When: August-September

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: offering of homages, Guru-puja, chanting, dancing, feast.

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): we’ll celebrate Vyasa-puja on Tuesday, Aug 31. *
10:30am Readings & Homages
12:30pm Flower Offering, Guru Puja
Limited bookings will be available in the week leading up to the festival on the ISKCON Melbourne Darshan app.
To view and speak online at Vyasa Puja 10:30am – 12:30pm, register at the link to be shared closer to the date. You will receive a link to attend and a 3-minute timeslot to read the offering you write in advance.
Please note that you will not be able to actively participate in the program without registering.
Join our live stream of the programs at bit.ly/hkmlive.
*Schedules may change in response to COVID-19 regulations.
This information is valid at 6.7.21. Watch for updates closer to the day.

About: Vyasa means guru, our original guru. When the spiritual master’s birthday is observed, it is called Vyasa-puja because the spiritual master is representative of Vyasa.

On this day we share our realisations about our Founder’s mood and mission and re-dedicate our lives to his service.

Radharani's Birthday, Radhastami

When: September-October

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: Flower bath for the festival deities of Radha and Krishna, chanting, dancing, feast.

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): we’ll celebrate Radhastami on Tuesday, Sept 14.*
7:00am Deity Greeting
7:30am Class
11:00am Flower Bath, Chanting
12:30pm Arati
Limited bookings will be available in the week leading up to the festival on the ISKCON Melbourne Darshan app.
Join our live stream of the programs at bit.ly/hkmlive.
*Schedules may change in response to COVID-19 regulations.
This information is valid at 6.7.21. Watch for updates closer to the day.

About: On Srimati Radharani’s birthday, our devotees offer unique, hand-made flower outfits to Radha-Vallabha and the festival Deities of Radha-Krishna. This is a special day.

Srimati Radharani is recognised as the topmost devotee of Sri Krishna. She appeared in Varshana, in Vraja, south of Delhi in India.  She is considered to be Krishna’s internal pleasure-giving potency (hladini shakti), who can control Krishna by Her love. Srimati Radharani is said to accompany Krishna in all his incarnations. In Vraja, She is a gopi, a cowherd girl. All the gopis are transcendentally situated purely spiritually personalities.

Govardhana-puja, Worship of Govardhana Hill

Snana yatra

When: October-November

Where : Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda:  chanting and dancing around a hill of sweets, feast

On Govardhan-puja we celebrate the glories of the holy hill of Govardhana, which is in Vraja, just south of India’s capital, Delhi. When Lord Krishna appeared on earth, Vraja was His home. It is said that when He was only seven, to protect His community from torrential storms, he lifted Govardhana Hill to shelter them.

At Hare Krishna Melbourne, we make replica of the hill from sweets and cakes and celebrate by chanting and dancing around it! Then we feast and distribute the sweets to all present! Don’t miss this party!

The Bathing Festival, Snana-yatra

When: usually Boxing Day (December 26).

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: Bathing festival, chanting, dancing, feast

Prior to Ratha-yatra, Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra enjoy a bathing festival (snana-yatra).

Snana-yatra is unique because it is the only opportunity we all have to personally bathe the Deities. Other than on this day, only qualified priests are allowed to bathe Them.

After the bathing ceremony, we like to believe that Jagannatha falls ill. He is taken in procession to His private room, where only a few priests can serve Him. During this time maintenance is performed on the body of the Deity. This is called nava-yauvana. The two-week period when this is carried out is called Anavasara.

Traditionally Ratha-yatra marks the time when Lord Jagannatha returns to public view.