Festival of India
Festival of Chariots
Hundreds of smiling faces greet Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe, as He and His brother and sister, Balarama and Subhadra, ride upon a colorful chariot down the streets of Wheeling every year. The annual Festival of India in Wheeling, more commonly known as the Ratha-yatra (chariot festival) in India and many parts of the world, grace the people of Wheeling with its message of “Culturally Many Spiritually One,” demonstrating that universal peace and brotherhood can be achieved by celebrating our oneness as children of God.
As throngs of spectators, devotees of Lord Jagannatha, and curious visitors join the grand chariot parade, the atmosphere is filled with exotic chants, joyful singing and dancing, the sound of Indian musical instruments, and a wave of excitement. Ladies dressed in colorful saris and decorated with henna and face paint dance in a rhythmic formation while men with dhotis and turbans play on Indian drums and cymbals. The people of Wheeling receive the spiritual culture of India, with its color and charm, in great wonder and reverence.
At the festival site, different stands and booths showcase various activities and cultural practices, from yoga and mantra meditation to questions and answers at the “Ask a Monk” booth, from face painting to the India Fashion booth, which are usually full of excited ladies trying on saris and leaving feeling beautiful and special. The men try on turbans too, and the children are entertained with fun activities. The mayor and important municipal dignitaries attend and appreciate the event, and live media coverage and TV broadcast the event.
And no festival is complete without food—sumptuous Indian cuisine from the Govinda’s restaurant is normally sold out, and everyone savors and appreciates the free three-course dinner that is served.
The onstage entertainment keeps the audience enraptured—soulful singing by national and international artists, traditional music by live bands, and classical Indian dancing transports everyone to India.
In fact, by feeling God’s presence and the harmony that prevail, you could imagine yourself not only in India but in the spiritual world.
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