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Goodbye to Lord Ganpati 2016

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By Runmee Barbara

HOUSTON: On the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, a big ritual ceremony is performed every year by devotees of the Indian community in Houston. This year also enthusiastic religious followers assembled to celebrate and bid adieu to Lord Ganesha at Shiv Shakti Temple in Hilcroft.  Devotees from in an around Houston came with their Lord Ganesha idols of different sizes and shapes to immerse and to be a part of the community ceremony. The ritualistic worship started with an intellectual speech by the temple founder, Virat Mehta. This was followed by reciting mantras, devotional songs and then aarti by temple priest Prakash bhai and Hardik bhai and devotees which led to the start of the procession. People huddled in groups for the procession to perform the final rituals of the Ganesh Visarjan (immersion of idols).

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Under a bright and beautiful sunlit sky, chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya reverberated through the air. Men, women and children danced enthusiastically to loud music and the beating of the dhols (drums). Bursts of gulal (powder colors) streamed up in quick successions, infusing the devout with the spirit of the occasion. Ganpati idols were accompanied by hundreds of people who marched to the beats of dhols and nagadas. Bollywood songs, bhajans and live music bands playing foot tapping numbers vied for attention. The grandeur and excitement of Ganpati Visarjan was simply overwhelming.

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The cultural evening started around 6.45 pm at the temple premises. The sight of the open air stage was scintillating, the mood contagious and the evening twilight with light breeze was a perfect start for the show. Deva shri Ganesha dance charged up the air on a mystical mode with Lezium beats, followed by devotional classical dance forms of Bharatnatyam and Kathak. An enlightening short skit was also preformed based on the “Life of Ganesha”. The characters, dialogues and the powerful presentation along with the colourful costume display left the audience enchanted and applauding. At the end of the skit, Lord Ganesha along with Shiv and Parvati sat on a pedestal that was set on stage. Maha Aarti and prasad was distributed to everyone making it a happy and sweet end to the celebrations.

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The mastermind behind this wonderful creative construction of the cultural show was Kusum Sharma. The entire cultural show was presented by her students from Shri Natraj School of Dance (www.shrinatraj.com) along with Kalakriti Performing Arts Foundation (www.kalakritiusa.org), a nonprofit supporting Indian culture, values and heritage. Sound and music was covered by Darshak Thacker & team from Krishna Sounds. The Photography was covered by Ravi Grover of Kanha arts. The decorations were provided by Mandap creations. A huge undertaking like this could not have been possible without the help of volunteers. Many thanks to Hardik Raval, Prakash bhai Adhavaryu, Haresh bhai , Jaydeep bhai, Vijay bhai, Gopal bhai, Alpesh bhai, Anil bhail, Atul bhai, Jasu bhai, Amit bhai , Nishita, Urvashi Ben and Ripendra Ben. The Prasad was offered by Deep foods, Shiv Sagar, Bhojan,Chandrika Masala and Masala Munchies. The temple trustees Dhiru bhai, Ashok bhai and Rajan bhai worked really hard to make sure that the program was successful.

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Celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi as a religious festival has been seen since time immemorial. The process of Visarjan teaches us detachment and to replenish our spiritual reserve. It reminds us that material wealth is transitory and that it is futile. Using Religious festivals as a platform to unite Indians in a home away from home gives everyone an opportunity to celebrate and continue to value the richness of our grand culture. The celebrations are over but Ganpati will still be gracing at the entrances of temples and homes. The imbibed spirit remains in the hearts of the devotees and enriches their lives. We look forward to this frenzied and energetic festival to return soon and refill our lives with blissful moments and blessings.

Kalakriti Performing Arts Foundation signature event Ramleela 2016 is on October 9th, tickets can be purchased online @ www.ramleelahouston.org or by calling Vipin Sharma at 832-202-9877.

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