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Record Crowds Attend first Durga Puja of the Season Organized by VSGH

Photos: Jiten Patel

Photos: Jiten Patel

By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: In the aftermath of the havoc created by hurricane Harvey, Houstonians were looking up to God for help and relent. What better way than to pray to Mother Durga for forgiveness, for all the abuse and atrocities that we are inflicting on Mother Nature relentlessly on a daily basis! As is the norm every year, Durga Puja was celebrated with immense piety, dedication and sincerity by the Vedanta Society of Greater Houston on September 23.

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The weather was nice compared to the once in 800 year disastrous weather that Houston experienced 4 weeks back. Nabapatrika and the idol of Mother Durga were carried to the nicely decorated pandal outdoors to the beat of the Dhak and the blowing of the shankh early in the morning, creating a divine atmosphere. We were honored to have Swami Kripamayananda, head of the Toronto Vedanta Society preside over the event, his 6th year in a row. What made the puja more special was the presence of our resident Swami Vedaswarupananda who was the Tantradharak and Dr. Amrit Achari, who did the Chandipath. Buddhadeb who traveled from Toronto with Swami Kripamayanada assisted him in the puja performance.

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The melodious devotional songs sung by the VSGH choir and Durga Bhajans sung by Pandit Suman Ghosh, his family and students made the environment reverberate with spiritual essence. The puja ended with the beautiful arati performed by the two Swamis in unison with the chandelier lamps, and pushpanjali, the offering of flowers, by devotees. A record crowd of almost 550 people attended the VSGH Durga Puja this year.

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Fruit & lunch prasad were served in the adjacent tent to all attendees. Some devotees commented on the great quality of the food catered by Maharajah restaurant. What was very inspiring to note was the increase in the number of devotees this year compared to last year probably signifying the increased seeking of blessings from Mother Durga for protection from natural disasters of the magnitude of Harvey.

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Dr. Malay Das, who has penned a book, “Swami Swahananda, a Profile in Greatness” was present at the occasion to oblige devotees by participating in a book signing ceremony. Other dignitaries in attendance were the Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray and author, poet Chitra Divakaruni. They both commented that this is one event throughout the year that they would never miss.

VSGH has made arrangements that part of the donations received during Durga Puja this year will go towards the Harvey Relief fund. Due to increased space demands, VSGH has undertaken the project to extend the side patio of the temple building to create a classroom/dining hall for the devotees. Appeals were made to donate generously to make the project come to fruition.

VSGH will celebrate Kali Puja at 7:30 p.m. on October 19, 2017. Worship will be performed by Swami Vedaswarupananda. All are invited. Please visit www.houstonvedanta.org for information on all VSGH activities.

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