ISKCON of Houston Celebrates the Opening of its New Temple

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By ISKCON of Houston Communications Team

HOUSTON: The past weekend of May 16, 17 and 18 marked a historic milestone in yje city with the Grand Opening of new International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple. Spanning over 24,000 square feet, the temple – an architectural gem – is anchored by a central dome that is 72 feet high. This weekend, the temple celebrated its Grand Opening Festival, attended by more than 11,000. Visitors from Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, India and USA marked this as a “once in a lifetime” event. (see related story on pages 8 and 9).

The celebration was officially inaugurated on Friday evening with an Interfaith program, welcoming participants from the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Baha’i, Zoroastrian communities followed by a variety of cultural presentations. The open garden was perfectly lit up and filled with lively booths, including a very popular henna station, ‘try-a-sari’ booth, Indian arts & merchandise booth.

The temple, with intricate marble lotus carvings on the inside, has multiple domes all-glittering in a captivating blue and tan on the outside. The center dome is adorned with a glittering golden wheel, or chakra as it is referred to in Sanskrit and is visible from miles around.

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The main altar, with intricate hand-carved teakwood carvings, is home to Their Lordships – Sri Sri Radha Nilamadhava, Sri Gaura Chandra, Sri Nitai Chandra and Sri Giriraj Govardhan, all looking radiant and happy in their new home. The altar of Founder Acharya of ISKCON, His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was lovingly decorated with flowers and handmade garlands. As unique decorations on the main altar, were two stunning white elephants, bedecked with white and yellow flowers.

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Devotees conducted kirtan, which is a form of call and response, singing glories of the Lord both days accompanied by traditional instruments such as the flute, mrdanga drums and harmonium. Smiling volunteers offered temple tours and offered to the newcomers a glimpse into the ancient Vedic traditions and philosophy of Krishna consciousness.

Festivities started early on Saturday morning as the new Radha Krishna Deities – Sri Sri Radha Giridhari were installed by two very highly qualified priests – well versed with the science of Vedic rituals who traveled from India to perform the auspicious ceremony starting with a fire sacrifice (yajna) in the garden outside the main temple.

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HH Giriraj Swami, HH Bhakti Bringa Govinda Swami, HH Guruprasad Swami, HH Romapada Swami, HH Gunagrahi Dasa Goswami, HH Rtadhvaja Swami, HH Bhakti Sundar Goswami, HH Jayadvaita Swami, HH Hanumat Presaka Swami, HG Mukunda Datta Dasa, HG Deena Bandhu Dasa, HH Kalakantha Dasa, HG Yashomati Nandan Dasa – to name a few, were present to grace the proceedings.

Following the yajna, there was Abhishek of the Deities (ceremonial bathing) with choice offerings while devotees joyfully sang and chanted welcoming the new deities into their new abode.

The Consul General of India Parvathaneni Harish with his wife Nandita attended the event for several hours. He captured the essence of the event when he said that the only way to salvation in today’s day and age was by chanting the holy names. He warmly appreciated the devotees of ISKCON for their sincerity and commitment to the path of Bhakti.

At ISKCON, bhakti yoga is promoted throughout all teachings. As explained by the temple president, HG Shyamsundar Dasa: “Bhakti Yoga is a very simple process and is built on the 4 pillars: Mercy, Truthfulness, Cleanliness and Austerity. “All of us carry bhakti eternally in our hearts. Fire spreads quickly when we have a spark and fan it a little. That spark is the chanting of the holy names”, he said.

The grand opening weekend was marked with performances from all over the nation showcasing the wonderful unity that can be found amongst so much diversity. The cultural events kicked of on interfaith day – Friday with several performances.

On Saturday and Sunday, students of more than 30 dance and music schools Houston graced the Children’s indoor stage and the Radha Nilamadhava Main stage. The main attractions were The Mayapuris’ Kirtan and Mrdanga presentation, the United Nations Association International choir group performance and the Kirtan band from Kazakhstan with HH BB Govinda Swami.

The Mayapuris have performed in Houston before and gave vibrant and exciting performances infusing the areas of Kirtan, music, dance and traditional Mrdanga presentations. On both days, there were unlimited, free prasadam meals, with various Indian delicacies.

For more details, please visit www.iskconofhouston.org or call 713-686-GITA (4482)

 

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