For the first time, Ratha Yatra, the Festival of Chariots will be held in Downtown Dallas on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Dallas Arts District, joining other global city centers like New York City’s Fifth Avenue and London’s Piccadilly Circus in celebrating this event.
Described as a festival of joy, the event will bring a vibrant celebration of Indian culture and spirituality to the Dallas Arts District in the city’s center. Presented by Kalachandji’s and the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the parade procession begins at the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood) at 11 a.m. and culminates at noon at Klyde Warren Park (2012 Woodall Rodgers Fwy.) where the festival will continue until 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Highlights of the festival include hundreds of festival-goers, pilgrims and faith leaders who will hand-pull the colorful chariot carrying the sacred deities of Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama along Flora Street to Klyde Warren Park. Next to the chariot, hundreds more will dance enthusiastically while singing sacred mantras and playing traditional musical instruments.
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After the procession ends at Klyde Warren Park, families and guests can enjoy cultural and educational exhibits that reveal the spiritual heart of India. The park will feature a main stage with kirtan (musical mantra meditation) and bharat-natyam (classical Indian dance), plus booths featuring traditional crafts, vegetarian cooking demonstrations, cultural displays, Indian dress-up, face painting, mehendi (henna tattoos) and more. A free vegetarian feast will be served to all, and varieties of ethnic vegetarian food will be available for purchase. A feast for the eyes, ears and the palate!
This Festival of Chariots, Ratha Yatra, has been observed annually for more than 3,000 years in the ancient holy city of Jagannatha Puri in Orissa, India, making it the oldest street festival in the world. Devotees believe that if they get the honor of pulling the ropes of the giant chariot carrying Lord Krishna, known as Jagannatha or the Lord of the Universe, then after this life they will obtain eternal service to the Lord in the spiritual world.
“Each year, we aim to make the Festival of Chariots a more vibrant and colorful festival for Dallas. Now in its 35th consecutive year, it is an honor to see the festival move from our East Dallas neighborhood to reach all citizens of Dallas, joining the ranks of other major cities like New York, London and Los Angeles where this festival is an integral part of their cultural calendar,” said Nityananda Dasa Adhikari, president of the Texas Krishna’s in Dallas.