I Went To The Venice Beach Festival Of Chariots And Learned More About My Culture

I Went To The Venice Beach Festival Of Chariots And Learned More About My Culture

Sand, sun, and good vibes.

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This last weekend I saw my own culture through the eyes of those who I did not assume to understand it.

I tended to be less open-minded to the authenticity and, frankly, the legitimacy of the participation in my Indian and Hindu culture from those who were not born into my culture. I appreciated the fact that those who weren't born into my culture might enjoy traditions and festivals, and want to experience them for themselves. However, I was apprehensive about drawing the line before appropriation, the most annoying, when someone attempts to teach me something about my own culture without considering that I would already know.

That changed intensely or at least opened my eyes wider when I attended the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Festival of Chariots at Venice Beach. I did not know what to expect and thought that it would more closely resemble Coachella, but with the ocean breeze to keep us cool. What I did not anticipate, was being overwhelmed by colors, smells, and imagery that I had seen my whole life, but that I still felt like exploring further.

Walking up, I didn't realize how integrated the festival tents would be with the boardwalk and beach. But, everyone who was not directly attending the festival still walked up to food stands and information booths - those that talked about the start of the organization and the stories of the Hindu god, Krishna, and the context Bhagavad Gita, a major Hindu philosophical text.

The festival itself follows a procession of religious statues, that in this case were carried from Santa Monica to Muscle Beach, and the partaking of music and open-minded worship that comes with the faith. I noticed the usual characteristics of Hindu ceremonies - fresh flowers, free food is given out to anyone that wanted some, and lively choruses of music and song. Just this time, I saw it at so much greater of a caliber, and with so many different looking and sounding people loving every moment of it.

I did learn about the organization and efforts brought forward by ISKCON, which I was not totally aware of before, but I also learned how so many people that I otherwise did not identify with on the surface, could truly appreciate the philosophies and beliefs of my faith and culture.

My mind was changed for the better over the last weekend. I connected together that when it comes to an open and accepting faith, I cannot think of myself as having "dibs" over any part of it. Regardless, of whether or not I was born into it, or somebody else decides to take it on later in life.

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I'm The College Girl Who Likes Trump And Hates Feminism, And Living On A Liberal Campus Is Terrifying

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

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I will get right to the point: being a conservative on a liberal college campus in 2019 downright terrifying.

At my university, I'm sure about 90% of the population, both students and faculty, are liberals. They are very outspoken, never afraid to express their views, opinions, and feelings in several ways. There are pride events for the LGBT community, a huge celebration for MLK day, and tons of events for feminists.

Then there's the minority: the conservatives. The realists. The "racists," "bigots," and "the heartless." I am everything the liberals absolutely despise.

I like Donald Trump because he puts America first and is actually getting things done. He wants to make our country a better place.

I want a wall to keep illegals out because I want my loved ones and me to be safe from any possible danger. As for those who are genuinely coming here for a better life, JUST FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND.

I'm pro-life; killing an infant at nine months is inhumane to me (and yet liberals say it's inhumane to keep illegals out…but let's not get into that right now).

I hate feminism. Why? Because modern feminism isn't even feminism. Slandering the male species and wanting to take down the patriarchy is just ridiculous.

I hate the media. I don't trust anyone in it. I think they are all biased, pathological liars. They purposely make our president look like the devil himself, leaving out anything good he does.

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

I mostly keep my opinions to myself out of fear. When I end up getting one of my "twisted" and "uneducated" thoughts slip out, I cringe, waiting for the slap in the face.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone at my university is hostile to those who think differently than they do.

I've shared my opinions with some liberal students and professors before, and there was no bloodshed. Sure, we may not see eye to eye, but that's okay. That just means we can understand each other a little better.

Even though the handful of students and faculty I've talked to were able to swallow my opinions, I'm still overwhelmed by the thousands of other people on campus who may not be as kind and attentive. But you can't please everybody. That's just life.

Your school is supposed to be a safe environment where you can be yourself. Just because I think differently than the vast majority of my peers doesn't mean I deserve to be a target for ridicule. No one conservative does. Scratch that, NO ONE DOES.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe.

Not just on campus, but anywhere. This world is a cruel place. All I can do is stand firm in my beliefs and try to tolerate and listen to the clashing opinions of others. What else can I do?

All I can say is... listen. Be nice. Be respectful of other's opinions, even if you strongly disagree. Besides, we all do have one thing in common: the desire for a better country.

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Dear Young Voices Of America, Stand Up, Speak Up, And Do Something

Our time is now.

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Dear young voices of America, I think we can both agree that we are sick of being told we are America's future while simultaneously being told our opinions don't matter. Now I personally do not listen to the people that tell me I'm better seen than heard; however, I know there are people that are a little timider when it comes to raising their voices. I am here to encourage you to be loud and speak up on topics that matter to you. There is no better time than the present to make your voice heard. Whether you are advocating for change in your school or the government, your opinion matters and is relevant.

We are the future of our country. How are we supposed to evoke change and reform if we can't have our voices heard? I call bullshit and I think it's time to take action. Even if you're the first or only person to advocate for your cause, be that person. Don't be afraid of anyone that tries to stand in your way. The only person that can stop you from speaking up for yourself and your cause is you. No matter how many nos you have to hear to get a yes or how many doors you have to knock on to get someone to open up, never give up. Never give up on your cause, never give up on yourself or the people you're representing, just don't do it. There is someone out there that supports you. Maybe they're just too shy to raise their voice too. Be encouraging and be supportive and get people to take a stand with you.

It is never too early or too late to start thinking about your future or to take action. But don't hesitate to say something. The sooner you start speaking up, the sooner you have people joining you and helping you, and the sooner you start to see and experience change. So get up, make that sign, write that letter, make that phone call, take part in that march, give that speech. Do whatever you feel fit to get your point across. Shout it from the rooftops, write it on your profile, send it in a letter, ignore everyone that tries to tell you to give up. Maybe they don't understand now, maybe they don't want to listen, maybe they're afraid to listen, but the more you talk about it and help them understand what exactly you are trying to get across, they will join you.

Even when it feels like you have nobody on your side but yourself, I am on your side. I will cheer you on, I will march with you hand in hand, I will write letters and make phone calls and help you find your voice. My life changed when I found my voice and yours will too.

So dear young voices of America, the time is now. Your time is now. Don't be afraid of the obstacles that you may have to face. Someone is out there waiting for you, waiting to grab your hand and march on with you. As Tarana Burke once said "Get up. Stand up. Speak up. Do something."

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