Three 30-foot-tall “chariots” decorated with thousands of fresh flowers will parade down Main Street in Santa Monica to the Ocean Front Walk plaza in Venice Beach for the 32nd annual Festival of the Chariots Sunday, August 2nd.
An estimated 40,000 people are expected to take part in the festivities. Admission is free.
The Festival of the Chariots originates from an ancient, annual tradition in India, which commemorates a joyous celebration of life in glorification of the Lord.
The tradition was brought to the West in 1967 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Every year millions of people attend the Indian festival, which is celebrated in every major city of the world, including London, Paris and New York.
Hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the festival will begin at 10 a.m. with the parade starting from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St. Accompanied by hundreds of dancers, singers and musicians, the procession will end at Ocean Front Walk plaza, where a traveling group of mystical Indian culture will unpack its tents and exhibits.
Also joining in the parade will be 800 youths who are “second generation Hare Krishna devotees,” says festival spokeswoman Janice Gunn.
The chariots have no motors but crowds pull them with thick jute ropes for four miles.
Entertainment will be featured on three stages, with traditional Indian dancing, singing, drumming and sword fighting, as well as contemporary music, children’s songs and plays.
This year the list includes Viji Prakash and the Shakti Dance Co., Vishnu, classical Odissi dancer, Karnamrta, Indian modern/classical singing artist, and Gauravani and his east Indian/rock band. Other performers are The Invisible People with Vikil Narayana, a band specializing in rock and rap music, and Jaya Uthal, a bhajan performing artist.
The event will include 12 food and gift booths, exhibits of Indian art and culture and a free feast, including a multi-course meal, drinks and desserts prepared for 20,000, Gunn said.
Exhibits on yoga and meditation, reincarnation, spirituality, Indian arts, vegetarianism, and animal rights will also be displayed. A gift shop will sell items such as Indian clothes (saris, skirts, lucknows, scarves) art, postcards, T-shirts, books, music and souvenirs.