Houston to Celebrate Rath Yatra


By Malay Vyas.
HOUSTON: On June 28, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra will be in their chariots drawn through the streets of Downtown Houston. The Rath Yatra is traditionally held in the city of Puri (Jagganathpuri) in the state of Orissa on the second day of the ‘Shukla paksh’ or the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashad translating loosely to early July for 2014. The statues of the three deities are taken out of the Puri temple and led in a procession to the Gundicha mata’s temple where the deities stay for about nine days. Houston, however will celebrate this yatra in the downtown area for more than six hours amidst the gathering of hundreds of devotees.

The SKAI (Surya Kabita Amlan Ishan) Foundation established in 2007 has been instrumental in bringing this piece of Hindu tradition to the city of Houston. Their website explains the significance of the Rath Yatra . The festival is also known as Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Jatra, Navadina Jatra, Dasavatara Jatra and by a variety of other names. Rathe tu vamanam drishtwa punarjanmam na vidyate: A glimpse of the Vamana, the dwarf form, an incarnation of Lord Jagannatha, is sure to ensure emancipation, release from the cycle of birth and death. Jatra is an essential part of the ritual of the Hindu system of worship. Jatra literally means travel or journey. Normally, it is the representative deities of temples more popularly known as Utsava Murti in south and Chalanti Pratima or Bije Pratima in Odisha, partake in these journeys.

This is a free event open to public managed by Masala Radio. ZEE TV along with Tara Energy, Mercedez Benz of Sugar land are the major sponsors. The event starts at 6.00 PM on June 28 and includes the chariot procession and other activities such as Mahapooja and Prasad, Cultural Show hosted by Sunil T, Dhol and Bollywood music by DJ Nish, Open Air Dandia Raas with Dandia sticks provided free by Zee TV and ofcourse, Indian Bazaar and Food Booths.
For further information, visit www.GreaterHoustonRathYatra.org.