In a spectacular display of devotion and celebration, members of the Hindu American community in Houston organised a massive car rally to mark the upcoming ‘Pran Prathistha’ of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, scheduled for January 22. The event, a first of its kind, saw more than 500 participants, adorned with saffron banners featuring an image of the Ram Mandir, the Indian flag, and the US flag.
The car rally, covering a distance of 100 miles made stops at 11 temples across Houston nad lasted for almost six hours. The participants, led by a truck, formed a 3-mile-long line of 216 cars, with the entire procession escorted by eight police officers on bikes. The rally commenced at the Sri Meenakshi Temple and concluded at the Sri Sharad Amba Temple in Richmond, with a vibrant display of cultural pride and religious fervour.
Houston philanthropist Jugal Malani had the honour of flagging off the rally at the Sri Meenakshi Temple, setting the tone for a day filled with religious chants, bhajans, and expressions of devotion. Kusum Vyas, founder of the Living Planet Foundation, described the atmosphere as a “sensory overload,” with the echoes of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and the sounds of conches resonating across the temples.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) extended formal invitations to 11 temples along the rally route, inviting them to participate in the consecration ceremony in Ayodhya. The temples were presented with exquisitely crafted invitation baskets containing the formal invitation from VHPA, sacred rice from Ayodhya, ‘Ram Parivar,’ ‘Gangajal,’ a copy of Sundar Kand (of Ramayana), and some sweets.
The organisers of the event, Houston volunteers Achalesh Amar, Umang Mehta, and Arun Mundra, expressed their gratitude for the overwhelming response from the community. Amar, also a member of the VHPA, remarked, “The devotion and love shown by over 2,500 devotees gathered at various temples to car rally participants was overwhelming. Bhagwan Sri Ram certainly resides in the heart of the Houstonians.”
Umang Mehta shared his sentiments about the event, stating, “We are blessed to be living in this time and to be celebrating the return of Sri Ram to Ayodhya. The atmosphere was so charged with devotion and love that it felt like Sri Ram had himself arrived in Houston.”
The rally showcased the unity and unwavering faith of the Hindu American community, bringing together around 2,000 devotees, both young and old, at the various temple stops. Devotees welcomed the procession with bhajans, creating an emotional and spiritually charged ambiance.
Arun Mundra highlighted the significance of the rally, saying, “The vastness of Sri Ram’s influence and the unwavering devotion of his followers was undeniable.” He emphasised the unique experience of sharing this perspective with fellow devotees, or Ram ‘bhakts,’ as they came together to celebrate the auspicious occasion.
The event not only celebrated the consecration of the Ram temple but also served as a testament to the strong cultural ties maintained by the Indian diaspora in the United States. The car rally, marked by religious fervour and community spirit, demonstrated the enduring connection between the Indian heritage and the American way of life.
As the countdown to the consecration ceremony in Ayodhya continues, the Hindu American community in Houston has set a remarkable precedent with this grand car rally, symbolising their joy and anticipation for the historic event on January 22. The echoes of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and the vibrant display of cultural pride will undoubtedly be etched in the memories of those who participated in this momentous celebration.