CALCUTTA, July 12, Reuter: Communist officials in India’s Marxist led West Bengal State on Sunday criticized Soviet diplomats for taking part in a Hindu religious festival in Calcutta.

Soviet Vice Consul Alexander Voulin participated on Friday in a Hindu ceremony known as the Rathyatra, organized by the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON) which is based in West Bengal and has close links with the United States.

“It is a pity that we had to see this,” said State Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Buddhadev Bhaattacharya. “It is unthinkable from a representative of a socialist country”.

The Rathyatra marks the annual outing of Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Krishna, to his aunt and is celebrated by millions of Hindus across India by pulling chariots which are supposed to carry him there.

ISKCON’s gala celebration, here they constructed a huge chariot and pulled it across Calcutta. This year was dedicated to the Soviet Union which has recognized Krishan consciousness as a religion as part its drive for social consciousness.

At the festival Voulin swept one road with a golden broom to begin the Rathyatra (literally the journey of the chariot) and the Soviet Consul General’s wife inaugurated it by lighting a golden lamp and offering Lord Jagannath homage.

Makhan Paul, spokesman for the Revolutionary Socialist Party of India, called their acts a deviation from the theory of Socialist.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 22, 1988