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Houston Diwali & Dussehra Festival 2017: A Show Par Excellence

Photos: Bijay Dixit

Photos: Bijay Dixit

HOUSTON: Once again Shri Sita Ram Foundation presented PAR EXCELLENCE spiritual aspects of our rich and proud culture and showcased it to all Houstonians here and to the world via internet.

On October 28, in spite of the cold, people gathered from near and far to witness the spectacular victory of Good over Evil to a capacity crowd at Skeeter’s Stadium in Sugar Land. The celebration of this victory created an air of euphoric energy that took over the stadium.

Even the moon and the stars shined bright with their fullest power along with the million plus lights inside and outside the stadium as Lord Rama battled and defeated the demon. In the battle reenactment, Directed by Kiron Kumar with added fire effects the demon Ravan cowered when he faced the stern and powerful Lord Rama and eventually fell to His arrows.

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Play on Ashtalaxmi presented by Ashirwad School was equally enchanting and mesmerizing and was brought to life by Director Geetha Ravula.

Eyes filled with tears of joy and hearts swelled when we saw our Lord Rama’s Crowning Ceremony. Seeing him on the throne, wearing the king’s crown, gave everyone the biggest goose bumps of their life! We prayed, we laughed, we cried and we thanked Him for being there for us! Spirits were high and every soul danced blissfully.

A festival of lights ensued and the victory was marked with Ravan Dahan followed by a spectacular fireworks display never seen before in Houston. What an exhilarating feeling to see the sky light up in beautiful showers of color!  Everyone was in awe and thoroughly enjoyed this amazing display of fire in the sky. Joyous emotions escalated with every burst of fire with continuous chants of Jai Shri Ram!

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The mighty Lord Ganesha took position at the entrance of the stadium, making sure that no obstacle entered the grounds where his children gathered on this evening. The chanting of God’s glory at the temple built inside the stadium and at the field level for this event spread the aroma of bhakti and faith throughout the venue. The chanting of Mantra Pushpam and the Aarti led by priests of different temples was truly divine.

The rangoli by Sangeeta Bhutada was breathtaking. Out on the field, a gigantic Lord Hanuman overlooking the magnificent stage, stood strong in front of the demons Ravan, his brother & son. Dancing little children in Lord Hanuman’s costumes celebrating Rama and the defeat of Ravan were spotted everywhere, jubilantly winding their way through and around the crowds of people that came together to celebrate from all over Texas and some from neighboring states. Dressed head to toe in flashy red and gold, the dancing Hanuman’s spread smiles infectiously throughout the stadium.

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The stadium reverberated with folk music and dancers from different parts of India. The magnificent parade of over 45 floats painstakingly decorated, depicting historical and mythological characters wearing era costumes was breathtaking. The efforts of Ravi Puri were evident in the creativity he brought to the several floats along with those brought by several area temples and organizations.  

Included for the first time were floats from the City of San Antonio, the Sikh Community, US Desi Gals and many more. Houston Mayor Turner had made a commitment to be at the festival.

From left: Indian Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, Judge Ed Emmett of Harris County, and Dr. Arun Verma

From left: Indian Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, Judge Ed Emmett of Harris County, and Dr. Arun Verma

The Dussehra parade was lead by Indian Consul General Dr. Anupam Ray, Vedanta Scholar & teacher Joseph Emmett and Judge Ed Emmett of Harris County, who were the parade Marshals for this year. Dr. Anupam Ray presented a check of $5,000 to Sewa International and a $10,000 check to Judge Emmett on behalf of the Foundation to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Foundation had earlier donated another $10,000 for the same cause.

The energy of the evening kept the celebration going into the evening with no end in sight. People were inebriated with joy and happiness. A never-ending variety of food, beverages and ‘Prasadam’ ensured everyone was taken care of to the fullest extent. Beautifully decorated and glittering shops/stalls with fabulous jewelry, clothes, toys and the jostling crowd reminded one of the famous Chandni Chowk in Delhi, India.

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Indeed the newly created Meena Bazar was a hit with the shoppers. It was more crowded than even Chandni Chowk. Children’s face painting, petting Zoo, free balloons, moon walk, play area and an active Fire truck and a police cruiser from the City of Sugarland kept them entertained throughout the evening.

The free photo booth, the Meet & Greet booth and the Ram Sita Booth were crowded venues for every camera in the crowd. The food, shopping, the stage program, the parade and much more entertained the crowd throughout the evening. The celebration of this significant cultural event was successfully executed with all elements of a great Diwali Festival including Ravan Dahan, Maha Aarti with more than four thousand candles, fireworks, entertainment, an abundance of food and beverages, and immense joy & happiness.

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The attendees looked forward to next year’s event which is expected to bring a still more spectacular Diwali & Dussehra Festival; since the Foundation keeps on raising the bar for itself to showcase our proud culture with an ever increasing intensity & extravagancy.  The Foundation wishes to thank all sponsors, volunteers, participating and supporting temples and organizations.

-Shri Sita Ram Foundation

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