The 36th annual Festival of the Chariots will parade its three 30-foot tall chariots from Santa Monica to Venice Beach Sunday, Aug. 5 for festivities that annually draw thousands.

Hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the festival will begin at 10 a.m. from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., to the Ocean Front Walk plaza at Windward Avenue in Venice, where the festival site will be decorated by colorful Indian style “pandal” tents. The event will be held until 7 p.m. and admission is free.

The festivities will feature many exotic food booths, a gift shop of imported products called Govinda’s and three stages with classical music, dance and Indian rock fusion.

Parking for the festival at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is accessible from Civic Center Drive off of Fourth Street due to Main Street being blocked.

The Festival of the Chariots is based on an ancient festival that takes place annually in the Indian holy town of Jagannatha Puri. Every year in India, the festival attracts over one million pilgrims, according to ISKCON. The local festival in Los Angeles attracts an estimated crowd of 40,000 every year.

The crowds participate by hand pulling the chariots with jute ropes as they parade toward the festival fairgrounds at Venice Beach.

On the main stage, some of the premier artists of the Bhakti Fest at Joshua Tree will perform.

Viji Prakash and the Shakti Dance Co. will perform the “Bharat-natyam” dance in authentic costume, recording artist Karnamrta will sing accompanied by Indian classical music, and recording artist GauraVani and Kindred Spirits will perform Kirtan.

Other highlights include stage dramas by professional director Anadi Dasa, and Goura Prema, the director/choreographer of the Natya Nectar Dance Co. from India, performing an acrobatic Bharat Natyam. ¤

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