The Hare Krishna parade in New York is organized by ISKCON, International Society for Krishna Consciousness and is better known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement. In New York, you may have seen them occasionally in a subway or in and around Union Square, where they perform ‘bhajans’ (religious chantings) while dancing. You can’t really miss them if you’re in the vicinity.
Being originally founded in New York in 1966, the Hare Krishna movement has now spread throughout the world. Their basic teachings are a form of Hinduism. Compared to other forms or types of Hinduism, the Hare Krishna movement has been exceptionally successful in international expansion. It provides a sense of community where none existed previously and was very attractive to the hippie movements of the 60s and 70s.
The Hare Krishna parade, called a ‘rathayatra’, takes place every year during the spring-summer across various different cities throughout the world including some major ones like London, New York, Paris, Prague, etc. The Hare Krishna parade in New York has been happening at Washington Square Park.
If you’ve never been to one, I’d highly recommend checking it out, if only for some delicious free Indian food! The cultural and fashion elements are also worth noticing during the parade. The clothes are very colorful and the environment very vibrant.
Here is some coverage of the event in 2014.
Here is the priest on top of the parade vehicles going through on the roads surrounding Washington Square Park.
The priests of course hold a special position within Iskcon. They are supposed to be learned scholars. In addition, they also dress different, in whites and saffron (orange).
The religious elements also mean the giving of ‘prasadam’ or holy food that has first been offered to God and then eaten by the devotees.
The overall fashion at the scene is like nothing you’d normally see in New York. Many of the devotees were dressed in traditional Indian clothes, men and women. Also, it makes it doubly nice to watch people of all ethnicities, not just Indian, in traditional Indian clothes during the Hare Krishna parade in New York.
The saree, a traditional Indian wear, was quite popular among the participants of the parade. The old and young alike were into the Saree, including people and families of both Indian ethnicity and others.