Australia’s largest free lunch is returning on Saturday 11 May as part of Brisbane’s Hare Krishna Festival of Chariots.
Last year, the colourful spiritual event drew more than 5,000 people to the city, 3,000 of which helped pull a giant, painted wooden chariot through the streets. The custom hails from India, the birthplace of the Festival of Chariots some 5,000 years ago, where enormous statues of deities are towed through the streets. It’s meant to be symbolic of Krishna emerging from his temple to greet his people.
This year, the festival hopes to attract more than 6,000 people, which is entirely feasible if you ask Chintan Gandhi, a key member of the Festival of Chariots’ organising committee.
“Brisbane has fallen in love with the Festival of Chariots and it is becoming a bigger event every year,” Gandhi says.
The Hare Krishna community in Brisbane play a significant role in many peoples’ lives, tells Gandhi, who attributes them to help him and his family build a positive new life.
“It is a wonderful community that assists many to connect and meet new friends, socialise and help others in need.”
Arriving in Australia as a student from Mumbai, India in 2006, Gandhi recalls the sadness with which he farewelled his rich Indian culture. He attributes meeting his now wife, starting a family, and connecting with Brisbane’s Hare Krishna community with helping him resettle in Australia.
Come May 11, the chariot-pulling will kick off at King George Square at 11.30am and will be accompanied by plenty of song and dance. Stage performances, craft and spiritual tents, henna, face-painting and cooking courses will follow.
But nowhere is the true generosity of spirit of the Hare Krishna community more on show than in the 7,000 free vegetarian Indian meals they’ll be dishing out to festival participants, prepared by the Hare Krishna-owned Govinda’s Vegetarian restaurant.
“We’re looking forward to having more people come this year than ever before and experiencing the life, colour, and vibrancy of Hare Krishna and Indian culture.
“We get more excited every year!”
Saturday 11 May, 11 am to 4 pm
King George Square, Brisbane