LA Last Day
Los Angeles, CA
I was savouring in the sweet thoughts of the previous day’s chanting. People love our presence there. I was also remembering what a devotee, Rameswara, said yesterday about the first LA Festival of Chariots in 1977. The LA Times reported 100,000 people in attendance, and our guru, Srila Prabhupada, being pleased with the numbers had said, “I told you this would happen.”
It was early morning 3:30 AM or thereabouts when I took in early air on foot at Venice Boulevard. I was immersed in such thoughts when a man who carried himself like a celebrity walked by me and proceeded to say, “Just remember, you just walked by one of the Sopranos, God bless.” I take it he is one of the actors.
I know there is a TV series by that name, never watched it, I accepted the remark as a good omen for the day, especially since the word ‘God’, with good intent was uttered during the bar hour.
The day was good. Devotees with bass, tenor, alto and soprano voices marched to Venice Beach pulling those glorious three chariots and singing their hearts out. It was the 35th annual Ratha Yatra for LA. Cameras, cell phones, kept clicking. Beach attired folks gyrated to the drum beats. Faces lit up to the sights of the towering temples on wheels (the chariots). You couldn’t help to hear the people’s faces which read ‘here is something different, something far out.’ They liked the rhythm.
From that first year in ’77 when Hollywood town, Los Angles saw dozens of banners with images of chariots and elephants, when the public thought Ben Hur was coming to town (as Rameswara put it). All that and to the present, the Festival of Chariots is still a big sensation in LA. It’s a day that everyone pays devotion to the Universal Lord, Jagannatha.