Posts Tagged ‘Jagannatha’

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008 On Sunday 22 June 2008 I photographed two events celebrating anniversaries in London as well as a protest supporting Czech hunger strikers who – like 70% of the Czech people – were opposing the building of an American radar base near Prague – part of the US Missile Defence system.


Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary – Clapham Common

Sixty years previously, on June 22, 1948, the SS Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, bringing 492 Caribbeans – many of who had served in the British armed forces during the war – from Jamaica to start a new life in England. They had paid £28 10s (£28.50) for the passage and were the first large group of settlers from the Empire to come to live in the ‘Mother Country’.

The events celebrating this in 2008 now seem very low key and that at the bandstand close to the Clapham South deep level shelter on the edge of Clapham Common where many of them were given temporary housing was one of several organised by Christian Aid, together with the Windrush Trust and Churches Together in South London.

Next year will be the 75th anniversary and it will be interesting to see how this is celebrated. The years since 2008 have been marked by revelations about the terrible treatment by our government of the Windrush generation and their families, suffering from the hostile environment, deportations and racism promoted by the Home Office. Whatever celebrations there are will I think be rather more political, and probably better attended.

In 2008 the event celebrated the great contribution made by the Caribbean community to life in this country, and were reminded of the contribution of Clapham to the fight against slavery, but began with relatively little about the racist treatment they had received here, and which was about to be ratcheted up officially when the Tories came to power.

This changed towards the end of the event when Mark Sturge, former director of African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, talked about the contribution black majority churches had made in the UK. He reminded us that Black immigrants were faced with discrimination at almost every turn, with notices “No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs” and other insults. Many came from religious backgrounds and turned to the largely white churches, and also found they were seldom welcome there. They became the pioneers of black-led churches, which provided an important support, not just religion, but also in education and other areas of life, helping them to face up to and fight against discrimination.

We had also got a taste of how it had been when Jacqueline Walker, who arrived in Britain as a young child a few years later in 1959, gave us an insight into what arriving in the country felt like, with readings from her book ‘Pilgrim State’.

Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary


40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London – Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square

Two men carry Jagannatha from the car to the chariot.

The day was also the 40th annual Rathayatra Chariots Festival in London, which saw Krishna in the form of Jagannatha, his half-sister Subhadra, and Balarama her brother carried on huge chariots pulled through the streets of London by Hare Krishna devotees.

The effigy of the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is lifted onto one of the chariots.

You can see more pictures from another year in other posts on My London Diary and here in the recent post Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths.

40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London


No to US Missile Defence – Support Czech Hunger Strike – Downing St

Although I condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine both in 2014 when the war there began and its escalation since February, activities by the West including the setting up of an American radar base near Prague as a part of the US Missile Defence system do provide some explanation for the Russian fears that have led to the current terrible situation.

70% of the Czech people apparently were against the building of the radar base, and some had gone on a hunger strike against it. CND held a rally and all-day fast on Whitehall opposite Downing Street to show their support. They included well-known peace campaigners such as CND chair Kate Hudson and veteran protester Pat Arrowsmith.

No to US Missile Defence


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Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths

Friday, June 17th, 2022

Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths – On Sunday 17th June 2012 I photographed two very different events in London


Hare Krishna Chariot Festival – Hyde Park

Effigy of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) the founder of ISKCON (Hare Krishna)

More than a thousand Hare Krishna devotees turned up in Hyde Park on Sunday morning to pull three giant chariots through the streets of London to Trafalgar Square.

People pull the chariots with ropes and others sweep the path for it

The Rathayatra Chariots Festival first took place at the Jagannatha temple at Puri, Orissa on the east coast of India probably at least a thousand years ago. It celebrates the attempt by Krishna’s childhood friends who were cowherds to try and kidnap him after he became a great lord and take him back to their village on a cart.

There are three chariots to carry the three deities worshipped at Puri, e Krishna in the form of Jagannatha, his half-sister Subhadra, and Balarama her brother. Jagannath means ‘Master of the Universe’ and his name and the chariots in the festival give us the word “juggernaut”.

Subhadra’s representation on her chariot

Hare Krishna disciples celebrated the festival in San Francisco in 1967 and it was first celebrated by a small group here in 1969, but only became a large event in London much more recently. It is one of the more colourful annual events in the city. I left as the procession left Hyde Park.

More pictures: Hare Krishna Chariot Festival


Fathers Day Vigil for Custody Deaths – Brixton Police Station

Family members call for Justice for Ricky Bishop, Justice for Sean Rigg

It was Father’s Day and the families of men killed by by police held vigils on outside police stations across the country. At Brixton, the family of Ricky Bishop was joined by the sisters of Sean Rigg and friends.

The inquest into Sean Rigg’s death in Brixton Police Station in August 2008 had begun the previous week. Following his killing police issued an incredible number of false statements, lying to protect the officers involved and the IPCC backed them with further deliberately misleading statements.

Although the police failure to make investigations and properly question officers involved, along with the destruction of evidence made prosecutions of the officers involved impossible the inquest jury delivered a damning and substantial narrative verdict which included a majority view that the improper and unnecessary restraint of Sean Rigg ” more than minimally contributed” to his death.

Although later three officers were arrested for having committed perjury at the inquest the IPCC cleared one of them and the CPS decided to drop the two other cases. The family appealed and one officer was charged with perjury but was acquitted by a jury despite having admitted giving false evidence.

You can read a fuller account of the efforts by the family to get justice on Wikipedia. Although two inquiries have found a long list of failings by the police there have been no successful prosecutions of the officers involved.

Ricky Bishop was arrested by police in Brixton in November 2001 and taken to Brixton Police station. A healthy 25 year old he suffered a heart attack and was restrained by police who only later called for a paramedic. It took several hours for police to take him to hospital where he died.

None of the eight officers involved in this death have been suspended or prosecuted and they remained on active duty.

These were not the first or the last suspicious deaths involving Brixton Police station – and a woman came up during the event to tell us of her relative Colin Bardley who she said was beaten to death there around 30 years ago. And there are similar cases elsewhere. My post on My London Diary quoted from a report published by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody in 2011 which states ‘in total, there were 5,998 deaths recorded for the 11 years from 2000 to 2010. This is an average of 545 deaths per year. Despite the fact there have been 11 unlawful killing verdicts since 1990 there has never been a successful prosecution.

More about the event, on deaths in custody and more pictures at Fathers Day Vigil.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.