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Photo by Arun Sharma - Your Lensman Photography

Experience the sights, sounds and flavors of India at the fifth-annual Festival of Joy this Saturday (April 27) at Klyde Warren Park! Celebrating Indian culture and spirituality, the free event kicks off at 11 a.m. with a welcome ceremony followed by a festive parade at 11:30 throughout the Dallas Arts District. And new this year, don’t miss the evening performance by popular Indian artist Gaura Vani (GARR-ruh VAHN-nee) at 7 p.m. who will perform a lively mix of Asian fusion music.

Presented by Kalachandji’s, the family-friendly festival brings together thousands of people for a full day of bright colors, culture, beautiful flowers and a free vegetarian feast. Guests can enjoy folk dances, yoga, kids crafts, face painting, an ethnic clothing bazaar, vibrant entertainment, ask-a-monk and other activities and exhibits that reveal the spiritual heart of India.

The Festival of Joy, also celebrated as Ratha Yatra or Festival of Chariots, has its roots in the ancient Indian bhakti tradition. It has been observed annually for more than 3,000 years in the holy city of Jagannatha Puri in the South Indian state of Orissa, making it the world’s longest-running street festival. It is now held in major city centers worldwide, including New York City’s Fifth Avenue and London’s Piccadilly Circus.

The festival will start at 11 a.m. with a welcome ceremony at Klyde Warren Park, followed by a parade at 11:30 a.m. through the Dallas Arts District and back to the park at 1:30 p.m. Hundreds of festivalgoers, pilgrims and faith leaders will pull the colorful chariot carrying the sacred deities of Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama along the route. Hundreds more will dance, sing sacred mantras and play traditional musical instruments. Devotees believe that if they get the opportunity to pull the ropes of the giant chariot carrying Lord Krishna, known as Jagannatha or the Lord of the Universe, they can obtain eternal service to the Lord in the spiritual world.

After the procession returns to Klyde Warren Park, families and guests can enjoy a free vegetarian feast and live stage entertainment, sample regional Indian street food favorites, visit an ethnic clothing bazaar, and explore holistic living exhibits revealing the spiritual heart of India, featuring Ayurveda, yoga, traditional crafts, mehndi, try-a-sari, ask-a-monk, vegetarian cooking and more.

At 7 p.m., Vani will be featured in a concert performance on the main stage with kirtan (musical mantra meditation) and bharat-natyam (classical Indian dance).

Note: Although the free feast and some activities will close at 5 p.m., the Indian street food concessions will remain open during the evening concert.

Festivalgoers who would like to experience more can get info on the Kalachandji Konnect program of daily philosophy classes and kirtan, and continuing education programs in meditation, yoga, Ayurveda and vegetarian cooking.

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