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Thursday, August 02, 2007

throw me some (mala) beads!

there's something i REALLY want to do this weekend, but i'm afraid that if i tell my friends i'll be partying with people dressed in saffron robes, they'll never look at me the same way again... :(

but honestly, how can any true yogi(ni) NOT want to attend what sounds to be a mardi gras-like celebration in venice beach this sunday?:

The 31st Annual Festival of the Chariots
Sunday, Aug 5th 2007 - 10am to 6pm

The 31st Annual Festival of the Chariots will roll into Venice Beach on Sunday, August 5, 2007. The festival commences at 10:00 a.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and proceeds south on Main St., with three fully decorated, four-story chariots leading a colorful parade toward the Ocean Front Walk Plaza.

The Festival of the Chariots includes a free feast for thousands, free entertainment and exhibits and booths all bringing together the finest in Indian culture. The festival celebrates Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe, and is put on by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The Festival of the Chariots is now performed in every country across the world and dates back thousands of years to Jagannatha Puri, India.

ok, so maybe the chariots aren't exactly mardi gras floats, but it looks like fun, nevertheless. i mean, how often does one get a chance to participate in a parade along the boardwalk from santa monica to venice? and dress in costume? and be able to chant joyously with wild abandon?

the way i look at it, everyone's got to do it at least once, right? especially those who live on the westside, like me :)

according to the festival website:

The Festival of the Chariots is sometimes referred to as Ratha Yatra, literally meaning Chariot Festival. Ratha Yatra originated 5,000 years ago in India, on the East Coast state of Orrisa, in a city called Jagannatha Puri.

The Festival celebrates Lord Krishna's return to Vrindaban and is held annually in the months of June-July to honor Lord Jagannatha, which means Lord of the Universe. Lord Jagannatha is a particular Deity form of Lord Krishna, fashioned from neem wood and brightly painted. The residents of Puri have been worshipping this form for many centuries. Five hundred years ago, Lord Chaitanya, the most merciful incarnation of Lord Krishna used to daily visit Lord Jagannatha in the temple and see Him in a mood of intense separation, much like Srimati Radharani who was parted from her beloved Krishna most of her days.

For the festivities; there are three chariots, one for each of the three deities; Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra. The canopied chariots are decorated with flowers and balloons and are pulled with long, thick ropes by hundreds of people. The chariots are accompanied by a procession of devotees who are ecstatically dancing and chanting the Lord's Holy Names:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

ok, i know i'm not the only one who wants to do this... anyone care to join me??