Mayor Sheryl Mai may not be the king but she still swept the streets to clear the way for deities as they travelled through Whangārei giving blessings.

The colourful Ratha Yatra Festival - a significant Hare Krishna festival - saw about 190 people parade through Whangārei on Saturday while pulling a chariot carrying three deities - Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva and Subhadra Devi - who bestowed blessings on the residents of Whangārei and all those fortunate to see them.

Buddhi Wilcox, festival spokesman, said this year's event was "really good".

"Every year we try to build it a little more," he said.

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"It went well, the weather was nice and it went smoothly."

The ancient festival symbolises the one day of the year where the deities come out of the temple into their kingdom and give blessings while traveling on a chariot pulled around by people.

Buddhi Wilcox, festival spokesman, said about 190 people took part in the festival. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Buddhi Wilcox, festival spokesman, said about 190 people took part in the festival. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Wilcox said traditionally the king of the land also comes out and clears the path for the deities.

While Whangārei does not have a king, Mayor Sheryl Mai stood in the front of the chariot with a broom to do the same job.

Wilcox said Mai was supportive of the festival and also wanted to see it grow.

"There were predominantly members of the Hare Krishna community there, but it's for everybody," he said.

Wilcox said the Ratha Yatra Festival began thousands of years ago in India but was introduced to the West about 50 years ago by a guru named AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and is now held around the world.

It is the sixth time the festival - which started at Food for Life in Water St, proceeded through the city and ended with a feast in Cafler Park - has happened in Whangārei.