Promising an even bigger and more vibrant celebration of Indian culture and spirituality, Kalachandji’s and the Crow Museum of Asian Art will present the second-annual Festival of Joy at Klyde Warren Park.
The March 30 event kicks off Dallas Art Month.
Longtime Park Cities residents Ritika and Atul Vohra have spearheaded the plans for the Festival of Joy. For nearly a year, they’ve held meetings in their home with dozens of committee members, spending hours planning, fundraising and finalizing the logistics.
“It’s such an honor for the Festival of Joy to kick off Dallas Arts Month,” said Atul. “We’re so grateful for the public-private partnership with the Crow Museum of Asian Art, Kalachandji’s, local businesses and, of course, the hundreds of volunteers who’ve come together to make this event possible.”
Ritika said the festival is like a passport to India.
“It’s a day of vibrant experiences – complete with music, dance, foods, and family – and it’s free,” Ritika said. “Spring is the season for renewal, so come out and renew your faith in the multi-cultural splendor of Dallas.”
Despite unseasonably cold temperatures, last year’s festival drew thousands of families, young adults, and dignitaries who experienced the bold colors, beautiful flowers and décor, authentic cuisine, music, dance, and interactive cultural exhibits.
The free, family-friendly celebration begins at 11 a.m. with a parade traveling through the Dallas Arts District and ending at Klyde Warren Park.
The parade will involve hundreds of festival-goers, pilgrims and faith leaders who will hand-pull the colorful chariot carrying the sacred deities along Flora Street to Klyde Warren Park. Alongside the chariot, hundreds more will dance while singing sacred mantras and playing traditional musical instruments.
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 (try on a sari or turban), 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.
“Although last year’s weather was frigid, we had a wonderful crowd that embraced the Festival of Joy, including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings,” said Nityananda Dasa Adhikari, president of the Radha Kalachandji Temple. “We are excited to join other major cities in presenting this ancient celebration and sharing the magical culture of India with North Texans.”
The Festival of Joy – also celebrated as the Festival of Chariots, or Ratha Yatra – has its roots in ancient India and the bhakti tradition. It’s celebrated in major cities all across the world, including New York City’s Fifth Avenue and London’s Piccadilly Circus. It 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.