51st Annual Festival of Chariots in Golden Gate Park

Over the weekend, Hindus celebrated the Festival of Chariots in Golden Gate Park. The festival is a parade and celebration held every year in San Francisco since 1967. Its roots are tied with the Indian celebration known as Ratha Yatra, which has been traced back for more than a millennia. The celebration was originally held in Puri, India.

During the parade, three large chariots make their way through the park. These chariots carry statues made to look like Lord Jagannath, his brother, Lord Baladeva, and his sister, Subhadra. These are all significant figures in the Hindu religion. During the parade, bystanders are encouraged to help pull the chariots. The belief is that blessings are shared with those who help pull the chariots.

Also included in the parade are numerous wooden carts. These carts are painted elaborately with swans and elephants. They are also adorned with garlands of carnations and topped with tall tents. The tents are all made out of red fabric meant to resemble temples.

The people in attendance of the festival say that it brings “the lord out to the park.” Some of the participants chose to use this festival as a way to give information about their religion to other people. Pamphlets were handed out to cyclist and joggers to explain some of the Hindu beliefs as they enjoyed the park.

Sharon Meadow was the final stop of the parade. A free vegetarian feast was part of the celebration. As part of the festival, a stand selling spiritual fashions and exhibitions explaining Hare Krishna believes were on display in the area. Primarily, information regarding vegetarianism and reincarnation were available for people to explore.

The celebration in San Francisco was originally organized by the founder of the Hare Krishna movement in the United States. The local Hare Krishna chapters in the region are the current organizers of this community event.

Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Hindus-celebrate-with-Festiva...


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