Houston: Members of the Hindu American community on Sunday held a huge car rally across Houston, stopping at 11 temples along the way amid bhajans and slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ given the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya later this month.
Temple officials received a formal invitation from Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) to attend the consecration ceremony being held in Ayodhya on January 22.
Over 500 enthusiastic riders, carrying saffron banners with an image of the Ram temple, the Indian flag, and the US flag, participated in the rally in a 3-mile-long line of 216 cars escorted by eight policemen on bikes.
The rally was flagged off at Sri Meenakshi Temple by Houston philanthropist Jugal Malani and it concluded late afternoon at Sri Sharad Amba Temple in Richmond.
Criss-crossing across Houston’s busy roadways, the procession, led by a truck, covered 100 miles with stopovers at eleven temples over six hours.
Around 2,000 devotees, both young and old, and some teary-eyed, welcomed the procession with bhajans at the temples.
“The chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and sounds of conches ensured full sensory overload for each and every person present at the temples. And yet again the vastness of Shri Ram’s influence and unwavering devotion of his followers was undeniable. But the best part was experiencing this perspective with fellow Ram ‘bhakts’,” said Kusum Vyas, founder of Living Planet Foundation.
The rally, a first of its kind, was organised Houston volunteers Achalesh Amar, Umang Mehta and Arun Mundra.
“The devotion and love shown by over 2,500 devotees gathered at various temples to car rally participants was overwhelming. Lord Shri Ram certainly resides in the heart of the Houstonians,” said Amar, also a member of the VHPA.
“We are blessed to be living in this time and to be celebrating the return of Shri Ram to Ayodhya,” Mehta said. “The atmosphere was so charged with devotion and love that it felt like Shri Ram had himself arrived in Houston,” he said.
“We presented the welcoming temple officials with a beautifully crafted invitation basket that contained the formal invitation from VHPA, sacred rice from Ayodhya, ‘Ram Parivar’, ‘Gangajal’, a copy of Sundar Kand (of Ramayana) and some sweets,” Mundra said.
“This was handed over to each temple requesting their participation in the Pran Pratishtha Mahotsav of the magnificent Shri Ram Lalla Mandir,” Mundra added.