Festival of the Chariots

Anita Marto

A parade of colorfully decorated four-story Indian-inspired floats, a man in full Krishna regalia painted blue, a holy man in orange robes blessing people with a sacred gold chalice, esoteric booths and exhibits on everything from yoga and meditation to animal rights, much music and dancing and a free feast for thousands. A festival from a far-off land? No, it’s the 32nd Annual Festival of the Chariots in Venice Beach held on Aug. 3.

Slideshow Media Credit: Anita Marto

The extravaganza is put on by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) and celebrates the Lord Jagannatha, Lord of the Universe in Hinduism. As a child, I remember live elephants leading the procession, which starts at 10 a.m. in Santa Monica and ends at the Venice Beach boardwalk. These days, it’s completely people-powered.

The event is now celebrated in many countries all over the world and is inspired by an actual Indian festival which takes place in Jagannatha Puri, India.

So, if you want great food, entertainment, exotic culture and all the humanity L.A. has to offer, plan to attend next year’s festivities. For now, light some incense (try Nag Champa) and enjoy the photographs.