Photo courtesy of The Festival of Joy

The fourth Festival of Joy will bring thousands of families and people of all ages to celebrate Indian culture in Dallas.  Local Priti Patel is one of the organizers of this annual event.

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The festival, presented by  Kalachandji’s, ESSM Innovative Technologies and American Airlines, will be free to the community. The Festival of Joy will be filled with bright colors, traditional street food, a free vegetarian feast, cultural music, dance, and interactive holistic living and cultural activities.

“Dallas is a diverse city of the future, and the Festival of Joy is one of the best examples of varied cultures coming together to spread harmony and happiness. I am excited and looking forward to being back at Klyde Warren Park to fest with fellow Dallasites,” said Dallas City Council Member Paul Ridley, who represents Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Arts District.”

The Festival of Joy, also known as Ratha Yatra or Festival of Chariots, has roots in the bhakti tradition and ancient India. It is observed annually for more than 3,000 years in the holy city of Jagnnatha Puri in Orissa, India making it one of the oldest t street festivals in the world. It is celebrated in major cities all around the world.

What better way to celebrate Dallas Arts Month than the unique Festival of Joy. We are a stronger community when we experience the Festival of Joy with its roots in ancient India and the bhakti tradition,” said Lily Cabatu Weiss, executive director of the Dallas Arts District. “The colors, dances, culinary experiences and family-friendly cultural activities bring a dynamic, diverse and colorful energy to the Dallas Arts District.”

The event begins at 11 a.m. with a welcome ceremony followed by a parade through the Arts District, returning to the park at 1:30 p.m.  Festivalgoers will pull chariots carrying deities of Jagannatha, Balarama, and Subhadra, sing sacred mantras and play traditional musical instruments along Flora Street. Followers believe that if they get to pull the ropes of the giant chariot carrying Lord Krishna, also known as Jagannatha or Lord of the Universe, they can obtain eternal service to the Lord in the spiritual world.

Photo courtesy of The Festival of Joy

After the parade ends, guests will be able to enjoy a free vegetarian feast and visit cultural and educational exhibits regarding holistic living and the spiritual heart of India. The main stage at the park will feature kirtan (musical mantra meditation) and bharat-natyam (classical Indian dance).  Performers this year include acclaimed Manipuri dancer Rinku Das and Odissi dancer Krishnaveni Putrevu. The restaurant Kalachandji’s will operate stalls selling regional Indian street food favorites. Other vendors will be present including Ayurveda, yoga, traditional crafts, vegetarian cooking demos, ask-a-monk, tie-a-sari, face painting and more.

“We look forward to a bigger and bolder Festival of Joy, with expanded programming and interactive activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy,” said Nityananda Dasa, president of the Texas Krishnas. “The energy and joy felt by the thousands who attend reminds us that there is hope in the world, and that the consciousness within can spread to inspire others. We hope people of all backgrounds will come and experience this special celebration of spiritual culture.”

The Festival of Joy is on April 15, from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. at Kylde Warren Park.