Dharma and Yoga Fest Reawakens Spirit of Swami Vivekananda

From left: Madhav Kashinath - Assistant Coordinator, HSS Houston, Sharad Amin - President, Hindus of Greater Houston, Subhash Gupta - President, HSS Houston, Harish Parvathaneni - Hon. CGI, Houston, Saumitra Gokhale - Global Coordinator, HSS, Ramesh Bhutada - Vice President, HSS USA, Amit Misra - Chief of Public Relation, HSS USA, Parthasarathi Krishnaswami, HGH Vice President.

Photos: Bijay Dixit

HOUSTON – On Saturday, September 7, Houston witnessed one glorious moment in the annals of Indian-American events history when close to 1000 representatives from 66 organizations joined hands in celebrating “Dharma and Yoga Fest” (DYF), a unique “once in a life time” event spreading the message of “Universal Peace Through Dharma and Yoga”. Spearheaded by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Dharma and Yoga fest was held as the culmination of the yearlong festivities called Swami Vivekananda 150 (SV150), in commemoration of Swami ji’s 150th birth year and 120th year of the monumental speech he delivered in Chicago on Sep 11, 1893.  Such events are getting organized in 30 different cities across USA under the aegis of HSS, spreading the awareness about Swamiji’s teachings and path of religious tolerance and brotherhood.


The local DYF event started at 1:00 pm with the arrival and registration of guests and concluded at 6:00 pm with the recital of Shanti Mantra (Prayer for Peace) by over 1000 people in the main hall of George Brown Convention Center. The guests were treated to a soul stirring, awe inspiring exhibition on Swamiji’s life and teachings before being directed to their respective tracks.

Another highlight of the SV150 celebrations was the nationwide Dharma Bee contest on the life of Swami Vivekananda. After initial rounds in various regional centers, where over 3300 children went through the qualifying rounds, nearly 130 children took part in the final round in Chicago in June.


“Swami Vivekananda is still young and his teachings have not grown old even after 150 years,” said Saumitra Gokhale, Global Coordinator of HSS, at the DYF concluding ceremony. “Swami Vivekananda lives within us … and the celebrations are the beginning of arousing of SV spirit,” he said.

India’s Consul General Harish Parvathaneni, who was the keynote speaker, highlighted the contributions of Swami Vivekananda and vividly described the origin of the Vedanta Society emblem, designed by Swami Vivekananda himself and told the audience what Swamiji had said: “The idea of the picture is that by union of Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Yoga, the vision of Paramatman is obtained”.


Subhash Gupta, President of Houston HSS, thanked all those present and those who had contributed relentlessly for the past few months for making the occasion happen.

Ramesh Bhutada, Vice President of HSS, USA, and Sharad Amin, President of Hindus of Greater Houston were among the luminaries at the DYF grand finale.

In accordance with the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, the Dharma and Yoga Fest was divided into four sessions

1. Jnana Yoga – The Jnana Yoga track had close to 150 attendees from 12 different orgainizations in two parallel sessions: a Panel Discussion Session, which had 6 distinguished panelists from different walks of life; and Speech Contest for middle school and high school kids, which had over 30 participants, out of which 3 winners were chosen in each category after two rounds of speeches.

2. Bhakti Yoga – 23 different organizations were represented by close to 400 attendees in the four parallel sessions planned for this track: Bhajan & Kirtan recitals by groups from various organizations saw participation of over 200 people at its peak, Panel discussion on Nava Vidha Bhakti (Nine Forms of Bhakti) by 9 luminaries had an attendance of 150, Recital of the entire Srimad Bhagvad Gita by close to 100 devotees and an exhibition on Bhakti Yoga attended by another 60 people.

 3. Karma Yoga – The track had participation from over a 150 people representing 26 organizations, active in Greater Houston Area, on the field serving the humanity with charity, social service, disaster response and rehabilitation work. 9 eminent panelists of the city spoke on various aspects of service (Sewa).

4. Raja Yoga – This track started with the attendees performing Pranayama (breathing exercises) and then heading into the lecture series. Attended by close to 100 representatives, seven types of unique techniques were presented and demonstrated by 7 organizations.

Over 45 kids from all over Greater Houston put together a play showcasing the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. The kids beautifully enacted different phases of Swamiji’s life: the early childhood, life as a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and his representation of Hindu Dharma at the Parliament of World’s Religions in America.

 “An educational and enriching experience. I was not sure what to expect while coming, now when it is time to leave, I want more of the event,” a senior citizen, who attended the event, said.