You may marvel that St. Augustine has an annual “parade of chariots”, but you have to love the pageantry of the annual parade and celebration of Ratha Yatra, which is deeply rooted in Far East Hindu culture, and also known as the oldest parade in the world.
“When I first heard of the event, I thought Roman chariots. I mean, we have all the other time periods, so why not?” said Anthea Manny, a longtime resident of St. Augustine.
America’s oldest city joined host cities all over the world this weekend with St. Augustine’s fifth annual Festival of the Chariots and Ratha Yatra Parade.
The normally somber Plaza de La Constitucion came alive in a whirl of brightly colored flowers, a parade of saris in gay hues, the scent of exotic food and live music of the east along with tributes and ritual dance by participants to commemorate the ancient tradition of Juggannath (origin of the English word juggernaut) because the size of the floats or “chariots.”
Residents and visitors got a “taste of India” for free as a vegetarian feast was served free of charge to all.
Janice Holland, a frequent visitor to the oldest city from Jacksonville, said, “This is why we come here. When you visit St. Augustine, you never know if you’re going to see 16th century soldiers, a battle of pirates, guys in kilts or saris. This is what makes coming here so much fun!”
Read more about St. Augustine’s central Plaza de la Constitucion, which is the oldest public space in North America.