Shri Sita Ram Foundation has been organizing Diwali Dussehra festival in the Houston area on a large scale annually since 2012 attended by over 10,000 people at Skeeters Stadium in Sugarland, Texas.
This festival has grown tremendously since it started. Last year it initiated efforts to make it global by involving Consul Generals of 15 countries in the parade. Participating Consulates this year increased to over 20.
Over the years this festival has gained more recognition and has been attended by dignitaries such as Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Mayor Zimmerman of Sugarland, other Mayors and several Congressmen, Senators, judges and members of the Consular Corps. in Houston.
This year, because of the pandemic, the event was celebrated semi-virtually via Zoom, Facebook live, and YouTube live. The virtual nature of the event created an opportunity to expand India’s culture and soft power rapidly to other countries than originally planned. This year representatives of over 30 countries participated in the event.
The Foundation continues to add new features to this festival. A highlight for this year was a live performance by Padama Shri Anuradha Paudwal via Zoom from Mumbai. It was a delight to hear her velvet voice on Nov 7th.
Another feature added this year was the inclusion of major temples worldwide. To name a few from India; Hanuman Ghari from Ayodhya, Tirumala Tirupati Dev
Several mandirs from US, Canada, New Zealand, Myanmar, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Thailand, Mauritius and others also participated. All Mandirs worldwide showcased their temples briefly and told the viewer how they celebrate Diwali.
Another new feature which received an overwhelming response was the Ramayan Skit contest where teams of participants from several countries competed showcasing skits/episodes from Ramcharit manas. Another feature which was broadcast was Shri Sita Ram Kalyanam (the divine marriage of Sita ji and Ram ji) enacted by Hanuman Swami of Sri Rama Jaya Niketan, a new Mandir coming up in Katy, Texas
Apart from the new features added this year, the festival also presented world class Ram Leela, score of amazing dances, Dussehra parade, Ravan Dahan, fireworks and Maha Aarti.