Greater Houston Ratha Yatra at Discovery Green


HOUSTON: Hare Krishna Dham Houston and Char Dham Temple are delighted to extend invitation to all Houstonians to attend Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra Festival and Parade, also known as Festival of Chariots, in downtown Houston @ Discovery Green on Saturday, July 13 from 5PM – 8PM.

Jagannath means “The Lord of the Universe” and is worshipped around the World as a very pleasant and benevolent Deity of Supreme Divinity. The Annual Rath Yatra Festival at Jagannath Puri commemorates the summer vacation of Lord Jagannath, with His elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, from the Main Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri, India to a neighboring temple, Gundicha Mandir. A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this special festival. The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages. Devotees from ISKCON centres all over the world, enthusiastically participate every year. The Skanda Purana glorifies the sanctity of the Rath Yatra in the following words- Gundicha mandapam namam jatrahamajanam pura Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat. Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed.

To glorify Lord Jagannath all over the planet earth, His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder acarya of ISKCON, made Lord Jagannath’s mercy accessible to people outside India by introducing the tradition of celebrating Lord Jagannath’s Ratha Yatra outside India. Following the same spirit and tradition, ISKCON has been celebrating Ratha Yatras for more than 35 years, across India and in all major cities of the world – London, Paris, Moscow, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Toronto, Durban, Sydney, and many other metropolises to fulfill one of it’s core purposes to systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.

Hare Krishna Dham Houston feels particularly blessed by Sri Sri Radha Nila Madhava, who historically inspired the appearance of Lord Jagannath and, who has been steadily worshiped since 1986 at Hare Krishna Dham. Now Sri Sri Nila Madhava in His form as Lord Jagannath has mercifully agreed to perform His ratha yatra pastimes in Houston again.

Some of the highlights of the festival are:

• For the first time three chariots are being used at any rath yatra in Houston.

• The Chariots were designed in Puri and assembled here (16 wheels for Lord Jagannath, 14 wheels for Lord Balbhadra, 12 wheels for Subhadra). The carts are replicas of the ones used in the famous Puri Ratha yatra.

• Special deities (2.5ft tall) have been ordered from Puri for this occasion. It’s made exactly the same way as those in the Puri temple. There are seven layers between wood and paint which make deities living entities.

• Discovery Green as a central well known location to make the event accessible to all Houstonians. First time, an Indian cultural event will be celebrated at the beautiful venue.

• Ecstatic kirtan parties comprising of devotees from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio in front of each chariot

• World renowned music group “Mayapuris” will be performing. Other multi-cultural performances include Indian classical, masala bhangra, Polish, Scottish country and Chinese folk dances and music.

• Free Dinner prasadam feast, and other types of ethnic food and drinks for purchase

• Free health screenings like BP checks.

• Face Painting & balloons for children and air brush tattoos for all ages.

• FREE Fun filled event for the entire family, being done at such a grand level for the first time.

For the first time the ratha yatra is being made accessible to all local Houstonians by The Hare Krishna Dham Houston, and SKAI Foundation, underscoring the fact that Jagannath is Lord of the Universe. This ancient and sacred festival at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney Street, Houston, Texas 77010 on July 13 is a celebration of the cultural diversity of Houston hoping to improve interfaith tolerance, unity & understanding.