25 Years of Hindus Working Together in Houston

Beth Kulkarni, the founding member of Hindus of Greater Houston, ties rakhi to Sharad Amin, HGH President.

Beth Kulkarni, the founding member of Hindus of Greater Houston, ties rakhi to Sharad Amin, HGH President.

By Beth Kulkarni

HOUSTON: Twenty-five years is a very short time in the history of Hindu Dharma but for Houston area Hindus, the last twenty-five years has been a long time during which much has been accomplished in the history of Hindu activities in Houston,Texas. Prior to 1989 there were few Hindu Temples in Houston. Many area Hindus did not participate in the activities of any of those temples.

One of those Hindus who did participate in temple activities was Raj Syal. He had a vision which he shared with some of his friends, convincing them to join him. His wish was to bring Houston area Hindus together, no matter what their temple affiliation or even if they did not worship in any temple. He wanted to create an opportunity for all Hindus to celebrate Krishna Janmastami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, one of the most beloved avatars of Lord Vishnu, together under one roof. Additionally, he wanted the celebration to be free due to generous contributions of a few sponsors and smaller donations from attendees. Amazingly, this policy of free admission for all has continued for the past twenty-five years!

And so beginning with the cooperation of a number of devotees from Hindu Worship Society and Sri Meenakshi Temple, and much hard work, Hindus of Greater Houston was established and held the first Community-Wide Janmashtami Celebration in 1989.

From the beginning, it was hoped that the celebration would grow year by year, involving more Hindus and broadening the scope of the celebration. All these have occurred, but with somewhat varying attendance from year to year. In addition, the Hindus of Greater Houston celebrations have included a Divali celebration, several Ram Navami celebrations, a number of traveling exhibitions and special honored guests.

Each year for the Janmashtami celebration, various temples and Hindu organizations have prepared temples and exhibits showcasing various Houston area activities of interest to the Hindu community. Cultural organizations such as dance schools and temple musical groups have performed. Costume contests in which young children have dressed up as Krishna, Radha, and gopis have been a popular feature of the Janmashtami programs. For the young and the young at heart the folk dance Raas Garba has been an important part of the celebration. And,of course, no Hindu celebration is complete without food. A variety of freshly prepared snacks, sweets, and beverages are provided.

As the number of Hindus in the Greater Houston area has grown,along with the number of temples and Hindu organization, the scope of the activities of the Hindus of Greater Houston has increased. HGH has worked to increase the communication between various temples so the major events can, to the extent possible, be held on on-conflicting dates. HGH has also facilitated the volunteer efforts in which members of various temples can help at major celebrations of other temples.

HGH has also made an effort to participate in activities which will benefit all Hindus, including educating non-Hindus about Hindu traditions.

As one of the founding members and founding Advisory  Board member I am pleased to see the progress of Hindus of Greater Houston in bringing Hindus together in celebrations and other activities benefitting the members of the local Hindu community. With me, hundreds of others expect and hope that the younger generation of Houston Hindus will work together to make the same progress the next twenty-five years.