On Sunday, August 2, three authentic Hare Krishna chariots will parade from Santa Monica to Venice as part of the 39th Annual Festival of Chariots.
“It’s a facsimile of a parade that has been held in India for thousands of years. Millions of people attend. It’s very, very popular and they travel from all over the country to attend it,” said Karuna Dasi, a communications representative for the festival and priest at the Hare Krishna temple in West Los Angeles.
The parade that will take place in Santa Monica and Venice may not attract millions of people, but with Indian food, live music and yoga demonstrations, Dasi expects the event to draw a large crowd.
“Here in Los Angeles the one we hold is also popular,” she said. “We get a crowd of about 50,000 people.”
The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, travel on Main Street down Rose Avenue to the boardwalk before arriving at the festival site at the end of Windward Avenue near Ocean Front Park. In addition to the food, music and yoga, there will be arts and crafts, children’s entertainment and a question and answer booth. The festival will last until 7 p.m.
“It’s very beautiful and colorful. There is a lot of singing and dancing in front of the three chariots decorated with flowers and ornaments,” Dasi said. “The deity of gods ride on each chariot.”
The event is hosted by The International Society of Krishna Awareness, known more commonly as the Hare Krishna movement. This society was formed in New York in 1966 and is based off the teachings of the Gaudiya Vaishava, a 15th century Hindu tradition. This year, second-generation Hare Krishnas, the children of the group’s founders, will participate in the parade, providing entertainment and singing as part of a tour in which they travel around the country attending various Festival of Chariots.
“[It’s] an opportunity to do something for their religion in terms of missionary work,” Dasi said. “They are an entertainment troop.”
Despite the religious nature of the event, Dasi says it attracts a wide range of attendees who are just looking to have a fun day.
“We get a combination of all the people that read about us in calendar sections. We also get tourists that happen to be on the boardwalk that day. All the locals in the Venice and Santa Monica area likely to come out to it. It’s quite popular,” she said.