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 2022): to be advised.

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 2022): to be advised.

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 2022): to be advised.

About: Janmastami is by far our biggest festival of the year. Pre-COVID, we hosted thousands of guests throughout the day.

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

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 2022): to be advised.

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 2022): to be advised.

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 the topmost devotee of Krishna. She appeared in Varshana, in Vraja, south of Delhi in India.  She is Krishna’s internal pleasure-giving potency (hladini shakti), who controls Krishna by Her love. Srimati Radharani accompanies Krishna in all his incarnations. In Vraja, She is a cowherd girl. All the cowherd girls are purely spiritually personalities.

The Month of Damodara

When: October-November   

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: offer lamps, chanting

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): Thursday, Oct 21 – Friday, Nov 19,
7 pm nightly

About: the month of Damodara, also known as Kartik, is a month for deepening one’s love for Krishna. It is considered by devotees of Krishna to be the holiest month of the year. During this month, devotees make extra vows, perform extra spiritual activities, and worship Krishna in His form as a young boy, Damodara, who was once bound at the waist by His mother, Yasoda, as a punishment for His mischievous childhood pastimes.

Diwali

When: November   

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: arati, offer lamps, chanting

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): Friday, Nov 5
4:00pm Arati & Kirtan
7:00pm Candlelit Arati & Offering of Lamps

About: Diwali, meaning ‘festival of lights,’ is one of the most widely celebrated occasions in the year. Diwali is observed not only by Hindus, but also by Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. The festival marks the traditional New Year’s Eve.

A central theme for Hindus is derived from the epic Ramayana. It was on the evening of this day that Lord Rama returned to His kingdom, Koshala. With his huge army headed by Hanuman, the Lord triumphantly entered Ayodhya, His capital, having rescued His beloved wife, Sita, from the demon-king Ravana. Although the night was dark, Rama’s overjoyed subjects illuminated the entire city with lamps to receive their Lord with great pomp, splendour, and celebration.

Govardhana-puja, Worship of Govardhana Hill

When: October-November

Where : Hare Krishna Melbourne

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

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): Saturday, Nov 6
4:30pm Arati & Kirtan
5:00pm Circumambulation of Giriraja
7:00pm Candlelit Arati & Offering of Lamps

About: 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!

 

Snana yatra

Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance Day

When: November 

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: offering of homages, Guru-puja, chanting, dancing, feast, then evening readings & arati in Srila Prabhupada’s room.

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): Monday, Nov 8
10:30am Online Offerings
12:30pm Guru Puja & Kirtan
6:00pm Lilamrita Readings*
7:00pm Offering of Lamps
7:30pm Arati to Prabhupada*
*In Srila Prabhupada’s room.

About: ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, passed on in November 1977 in Vrindavana, India.

People may say, ‘The devotee is also dying, and the non-devotee is also dying. What is the difference?’ The example is given that a cat catches a rat in her mouth, and at the same time, she carries her cubs in her mouth. Superficially, we can see that the same mouth is being used, but one is feeling comfortable being carried by the mother, and another is feeling their death knell. Similarly, when they are dying, an advanced devotee’s feeling is that they are being transferred to the spiritual world, whereas many of us may feel that death is dragging us into a hellish condition of life.

Therefore, according to Krishna-conscious culture, the appearance and disappearance of devotees are considered all-auspicious. We believe that the appearance and disappearance of Krishna – who is complete in eternality, knowledge, and bliss – and that of His pure representatives are causes for celebration. While there is no need to lament, at the same time we feel pangs of separation from His Divine Grace.

Go Puja/Worshipping the Cows

When: November 

Where: Hare Krishna Valley, 1265 Dean’s Marsh Rd, Bambra 3241, www.harekrishnavalley.com.au, 03-5288-7383

Agenda: arati to the farm Deites, procession to the cows, arati to the cows, feeding the cows, feast.

Schedule (Hare Krishna Valley 2021): Sunday, Nov 14 (not broadcast)
12:00pm Arati
1:00pm Go Puja
12:30pm Procession

These simple, gentle creatures eat only grass and produce nutritious satisfying milk. Out of love, the cow produces more milk than her calf can drink. Even her stool and urine have unlimited agricultural and medicinal uses.

The mission of our farm retreat, Hare Krishna Valley, is to show the spiritual and material benefits that result from protecting and caring for the cows. To do this, we want to create a place where everyone can see this demonstrated, a place where anyone, regardless of religious persuasion, can experience the peace and satisfaction that comes from personally caring for cows. We consider cows to be our mothers because they sustain us with milk from the time we are infants. Is there anyone who can say that they have not been nourished by that health-giving drink?

The Vedic literatures describe that the demigods and demi goddesses reside in the body of a cow. As such, a cow is regarded as divine and holy. Krishna Himself gave more importance to the worship of cows than to the worship of Indra, the king of the demigods. Therefore, in India, millions of Vedic followers worship Mother Cow at least once a year on the day of Govardhana Puja. Locally, because we celebrate both Govardhana Puja in Melbourne and Go Puja at Hare Krishna Valley, we have twice the fun.

The Bathing Festival, Snana-yatra

When: usually Boxing Day (December 26) 

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: Bathing festival, chanting, dancing, feast

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): Sunday, December 26
11:00am Abhisheka
12:30pm Hati-vesha Arati
1:00pm Online Panihati Auction (details to follow)

About: 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.

According to Skanda Purana, when King Indradyumna installed the original wooden deities of Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra, he arranged a bathing ceremony. This day is the birthday of Lord Jagannatha. So, every year on the Purnima of Jyestha month, it is commemorated by a special bath for Lord Jagannatha.

It is said that a profound scholar and staunch devotee of Lord Ganesh visited Puri during Snana Yatra. The King of Puri asked the scholar to accompany him to see Lord Jagannatha, but the scholar refused under the pretext that he wouldn’t worship any God other than his worshippable deity, Lord Ganesh. Somehow, he was persuaded and brought before the bathing platform. To everyone’s surprise, Lord Jagannatha appeared with an elephantine form that resembled Ganesh. Ever since, during Snana Yatra when the sacred bath is performed, the Deities are dressed like elephants – resembling Ganesh.

In Melbourne, Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra return to the altar following Their bath. Then They are dressed in elephant masks and night clothes ready to retire. Then They are offered a wonderful feast before retiring.

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.

Panihati Auction

When: December

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: offer delicious offerings in hand-painted pots to Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra; auction the prasadam.

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): Sunday, December 26 1 pm (online auction)

About: the pots are painted by Melbourne’s best vaishnava artists: 13 delicious flavours (eg. carob & exotic fruits & nuts).

We call these dishes a Panihati or Chida-dahi feast. Panihati is a village in West Bengal, India. In the sixteenth century, when Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to propagate the Sankirtana movement, Panihati became a major centre for Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, a personal associate of Mahaprabhu and a devotee of the highest order, went to meet Nityananda Prabhu at Panihati. Lord Nityananda saw Raghunatha’s humility and renunciation. He called him and said “Raghunatha dasa! You are hiding like a thief. Now I have caught hold of you. Come here. I shall punish you today.’’ Then Lord Nityananda forcibly caught him and lovingly put His lotus feet on the head of Raghunatha Dasa. He ordered Raghunatha to celebrate a big festival and serve all the devotees – with yogurt and chipped rice (chida-dahi). To this day, Vaisnavas celebrate this festival to commemorate this wonderful pastime. Traditionally, the Panihati festival is celebrated on the thirteenth day of the bright moon in the month of Jyeshta (May-June).

This is summer India. In Melbourne that’s December. We take the opportunity of Lord Jagannatha’s annual dressing in His elephant dress to offer Him a wonderful chida-dahi feast. Then we hold a fun-filled auction of the feast to support the Deities, and finally, everyone shares Krishna’s special prasadam.

New Year's Day

When: January

Where: Hare Krishna Melbourne

Agenda: arati, chanting, fire sacrifice, feast

Schedule (Melbourne 2021): Friday, January 1
4:00 pm Fire Sacrifice & Arati
7:00pm Arati & Kirtan

About: you may not be surprised to read that Hare Krishnas celebrate New Year by remembering Krishna and chanting His holy names!

For us, every day can be New Year’s Day because Krishna is ever fresh and ever new. We don’t feel the need to celebrate with intoxicants, we celebrate by becoming intoxicated by Krishna’s eternally blissful and enlightening names.

Most New Year’s resolutions take the form of “do’s”—things I resolve to do—and “don’ts”—things I resolve to not do. Vedic wisdom tells us that all do’s and don’ts should support one main do—always remember Krishna—and one main don’t—never forget Him. Happy New Year!