Toronto's Hare Krishna Temple

Toronto's Hare Krishna Centre (ISKCON Toronto), has always been the hub of a rich, vibrant and enthusiastic community. Whether it be grand festivals, programs at local universities and yoga studios, philosophical discussions, cooking sessions, or singing and dancing on the streets, there are events taking place for everyone's interest.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Some Important Updates About This Weekend's Caribana Kirtan!

1:50:00 PM By Kevala-Bhakti Dasa (Keshav)

There has been some buzz in our Hare Krishna community about our bringing the sweet sounds of kirtan to the big Caribana festival this weekend.  Ranging from excitement to concern, devotees in our Hare Krishna community have been sharing their thoughts and feedback about the idea.  We have some updates!

Several meetings have happened and we are excited to announce a revised plan for the Caribana Kirtan this Saturday, August 4th.  Originally, we were slated to be part of the entire eight-hour parade with the expectation of having 300+ devotees taking part in a chanting procession.  This proved to be challenging on many fronts.  From overall safety, to the atmosphere of the festival along with the sheer logistics, we decided the plan needed some revising.

We will now be taking part in the parade only until 1pm (as opposed to 6pm) and will only take part in the initial part of the parade which is enclosed in the Exhibition Place grounds.  Devotees will NOT be present for the much larger section of the parade which goes down Lakeshore Blvd.  The area enclosed within the Exhibition Place grounds is a lot safer and it will also be less exhausting to just take part in this section of the parade.  Please click on the map to the above to see the area that we will be participating in.  We still plan on bringing one of the chariots and will explain more below.  If you haven't already done so, please register to attend this event.  Registration is mandatory so that we can plan properly! Click here to register.

The following are some things to keep in mind:

Basic Information
  • The entire Caribana parade consists of about 20 different groups.
  • Each group has a number of floats, costumes, participants, etc.
  • We are part of one specific group that will be in the middle of the parade.
  • The parade begins at 10am within the Exhibition Place grounds and proceeds to circle within the grounds before heading onto Lakeshore Blvd and heading west for about 4kms (see map).
  • Devotees will be participating ONLY in the enclosed area at the Exhibition Grounds and will chant, dance and sing along with one of the chariots that we use for our Ratha-Yatra.
  • The chariot will be pulled by a pickup truck so that devotees can be focused on the kirtan.
  • There will be no Deities on the chariot. This will be further explained below.
  • Upon finishing in the enclosed area, all of us will then leave the parade and head back to the temple.
  • While the devotees leave (approximately 1pm), the chariot will continue, pulled by the pickup truck for the rest of the duration of the parade.
  • For the remainder of the parade, kirtan from a CD will be played on the chariot and only about 6-8 devotees will be on the chariot.
  • There will be NO DEVOTEES on the ground, walking for the vast majority of the parade, from 1pm to 6pm (the path indicated in red in the map).
  • Please remember.  If you haven't already registered, please click here and do so!

How to Get There
  • In order to reach the festival site safely, all devotees will gather at the temple by 6:30am.
  • At the temple, devotees can get dressed in their saris, dhotis, kurtas, etc.
  • The girls will have gopi dots (traditional face paints) applied to their faces.
  • All men are asked to wear white dhotis and kurtas.  We will be adding a nice sash to all the men.
  • We will all leave the temple together, by TTC, at 7:30am SHARP!
  • Any devotees who need to meet us at the festival site, please let us know in advance.
  • Meeting us at the festival site is not encouraged as it will be a crazy scene with a lot happening.  
  • Our preference is that we all meet together at the temple, arrive at the festival site together and then leave the parade together.

  • Upon arrival at the festival site, the chariot will already be setup with decorations being done.
  • We will be starting off in the Parade Assembly area and will likely start kirtan right away as we wait for the parade to start.
  • Once the parade starts, we will follow the parade and do a loop around the Exhibition Grounds before heading onto Lakeshore Blvd.
  • Once we hit Lakeshore Blvd, we will go onto a slightly raised stage and chant in front of the panel of judges.
  • After exiting the stage, we will start to go down Lakeshore Blvd and then, at the right time, all the devotee participants will leave together.
  • The chariot will continue, pulled by a pickup truck for the remainder of the parade.

  • Safety is of utmost importance for the devotees who would like to participate in the parade.
  • Only devotees who are above the age of 18 will be allowed to participate in the event.
  • We will also make sure that we stick together at all times (safety in numbers).
  • We ask that devotees not stray and wander from the group and that we stay together as we take part in the parade.

  • As mentioned above, the chariot will NOT have any Deities present.
  • Given the nature of the festival, we all agreed it would not be appropriate to have Deities on the chariot.
  • Instead, we will either have a blown up image of Lord Jagannatha or we will use a paper-mache Jagannatha.
  • Due to the constraints of trying to hand-pull the chariot for eight hours, we agreed to have the chariot pulled by a pickup truck.

Questions & Concerns
  • We acknowledge that our devotees taking part in this event is a sensitive topic for many devotees in our community.  
  • We have spent a countless number of hours deliberating on how to take part in the event (and even asking ourselves whether we should be in the event at all!).
  • The final plan that we have come up with allows for devotees to be present to share the sweet sounds of kirtan with tens of thousands of people, but at the same time ensuring that devotees are only taking part in the safest part of the parade and then leaving right away all together.
  • If you have any questions, concerns or comments about this initiative, we encourage you to write to us at


cvmisir said...

Appropriate and adequate precautions seem to have been taken. That being said, nothing can compare to the visibility provided by participation. Hopefully this will become an annual event. Hare Krishna!

cvmisir said...

Hare Krishna!

Anonymous said...

Hare Krishna!!! Just saw the float on tv and I must say that Jagannatha looks extremely beautiful!