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Photos: Hare Krishna Festival Brings Colorful, Canopied Chariots And Parade To Venice

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On Sunday, thousands gathered in Venice for Los Angeles' 40th annual Festival of Chariots. The Festival of Chariots, also known as Ratha-yatra, is an Indian tradition that dates back millennia. It was brought to the west by Hare Krishna movement founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1967. That first western Chariot Festival was held in San Francisco, of course, but an L.A. version has been in place since 1977. The festival is hosted by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.

The parade began at 10 a.m. outside of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and arrived at Venice Beach around noon Sunday. Three fully decorated, four-story tall chariots (one for each of the three deities; Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra) hand-pulled by Krishna devotees led the parade. Participants shared flowers with passersby, danced, and chanted mantras.

According to the event page, the festival celebrates Lord Krishna's return to Vrindaban and is held annually in the months of June or July to honor Lord Jagannatha. The festival culminated in a free feast with traditional Indian dishes and musical performances.