Social samvad/Delhi (Report – Sidharth Prakash ) : On Sunday, January 7th, Houston Hindus broke all records with one of the largest and most successful car rallies in the US. Dedicated to Shri Ram, the rally was organized under the leadership of Achalesh Amar, Arun Mundra and Umang Mehta to celebrate the return of Shri Ram to Ayodhya and to observe the January 22nd Pran Pratishtha of Shri Ram Temple in Ayodhya, India.
Following an early morning start at Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland beginning with puja at Ram Sannidhi, the rally concluded in late afternoon at Sri Sharadambal Temple in Richmond. A total of 216 cars and five motorbikers took take part with 500 plus riders. Over the course of six hours, they covered one hundred miles with stopovers in eleven temples where an estimated two thousand welcomed the procession creating an unparalleled ambiance of pure love, devotion, and harmony.
The temples that participated as stopping points where the procession was welcomed with magnificent Sanatani traditions were: Sri Meenakshi Temple, Sanatan Shiv Shakti Mandir, Hindu Worship Society, Houston Durga Bari Society, Sri Guruvayurappan Temple, VPSS Haveli, Shri Krishna Vrundavana, Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple, Shirdi Sai Jalaram Mandir, Vadtal Dham, Sharadamba Temple, JVB Preksha Meditation Center and Arya Samaj.
“We are blessed to be living in this time and to be celebrating the return of Shri Ram to Ayodhya. Ram Temple is the result of 500-year-long struggle of sacrifice and determination where many brave men and women laid down their lives”, said Umang Mehta. “The atmosphere today was so charged with devotion and love that it felt like Ayodhya and Shri Ram Himself had arrived in Houston. Today we were all Ayodhyawasis”.
After being received at various temples, with magnificent decorations and welcome generally accorded to revered guests accompanied by traditional rituals and mantras by the temple priests and officials, the rally participants were escorted inside the prayer halls for Puja and prayers. All guests were served prasadam consisting of fresh fruit and sweets. The concluding ceremony at Sringeri Shraradambal Mandir, served sumptuous lunch as Mahaprasad after their traditional puja at Ram Sannidhi. A murti of Shri Ram Darbar carried by Achalesh Amar was welcomed with chants of sacred mantras, bells and conch blowing where one could witness raw, and uninhibited emotions creating a feeling of being in Vaikuntha.
Criss crossing across Houston’s busy roadways is not usually a fun time, but watching the three-mile-long procession of beautifully decorated vehicles, bearing saffron banners and flags of USA, Texas, India and Shri Ram Dhwaj lead by police escort on eight motorbikes, was simply breathtaking and a crowd stopper. The scale of the procession of colorfully decorated rally cars can’t be fully grasped, even from a few feet from front or sides but the enthusiasm and high energy certainly added much-needed perspective on how monumental and divine Shri Ram and the inauguration of His Temple at Ayodhya are and where we fit in as tiny humans.
The chants of Jai Shri Ram and sounds of conches ensured full sensory overload for each person present at the temples. And, yet again the vastness of Shri Ram’s influence and unwavering devotion of His followers, was undeniable. However, the best part was experiencing this perspective with fellow Ram Bhaktas all unified under Shri Ram Dhwaj and a full-sized billboard in Houston.