LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A parade is underway along Crenshaw Boulevard Monday to mark the start of the seven-day African American festival of Kwanzaa.

The theme of the 35th annual Kwanzaa Gwaride Parade and Festival will be “A New Paradigm,” according to R.W. Akile for People of Color, which organizes the parade and festival.

The festivities started at noon at the corner of Crenshaw and Adams boulevards and headed south along Crenshaw to Leimert Park.

“The celebration of the 45th anniversary of Kwanzaa is a significant marker and milestone in itself, not only because of what it says about the expansive message and enduring meaning that Kwanzaa has for millions throughout the world African community, but also because of what it says about us as a people,” Maulana Karenga wrote in his annual founder’s message.

“For it speaks to our profound commitment to self-determination, to cultural reaffirmation and the celebration of ourselves; to our right and responsibility to speak our own special cultural truth in a multicultural world and to the practice and promotion of Kwanzaa’s core principles, the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles, the hub and hinge on which the holiday turns.”

Kwanzaa was created by Karenga in 1966 and is observed from Dec. 26 though Jan. 1. Its focus is on seven principles — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

“The seven principles of Kwanzaa are values that we as Angelenos all hold dear,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

During the week, a candelabrum called a Kinara is lit, and ears of corn representing each child in the family are placed on a traditional straw mat.

Some people fast during the holiday, and a feast is often held on its final night.

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