Akshaya Tritiya and Chandan Yatra Celebrated at the Gaudiya Matha Temple

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HOUSTON: Sri Govindaji Gaudiya Matha celebrated its first Akshay Tritiya and Chandan Yatra festival on May 1and May 2, at its Temple in northwest Houston. The importance of this day is explained by Srila Narayana Maharaja, the founder of the temple, as follows – “Akshaya means ‘not perishable.’ Any endeavor started on this day will be successful. If you sincerely take a spiritual vow today, your bhakti will be very successful. On Aksaya-tritiya the universe was created by Brahma, so today is the first day of Creation. Also, Brahma created barley, which is like a medicine, and which is the root of all the corn and other foodstuffs. Barley is given today to Krishna. Today the doors of Bhadri-narayana are opened, and a festival is observed in Puri to initiate the construction of Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha (chariot)”. The parent organization of the temple, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti was also established on this day in 1941.

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This day also marks the start of Chandan Yatra. As it starts getting very hot in India, the devotees apply chandan (sandalwood paste) to the Lord to keep Him cool. Temple devotees in Houston also worked tirelessly for hundreds of hours to make the sandalwood paste by rubbing the sandalwood sticks while chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra. On May 1, the Deity of Lord Krishna (Sri Govindaji) was completely embalmed with sandalwood paste and decorated with beautiful colors and flowers. Throughout the evening hundreds of people came to the temple and were mesmerized by this special darshan of Sri Govindaji.

On May 2nd, Orissa Culture Center (OCC) along with Sri Sita Rama Foundation celebrated the Akshya Trititya with the Gaudiya Matha devotees at the temple. With the Vedic chanting and the blowing of the sacred conch shell, the temple room was filled with transcendental presence of Lord Jagannatha and Sri Radha Govindaji. OCC President and priest, Dr. Debananda Pati recited mantras to invoke heavenly permission of the Lord for the OCC Rath construction and passed the symbol to Madhab Maharana, the original builder of the Houston Rath in 2008. He then explained the importance of this day.

After the conclusion of all the rituals, Sandhya Aarti was performed with great love and devotion by over 300 devotees gathered in the temple. After this everyone recited Sri Jagannatha Astakam and Sri Dasavatara Stotram as Pushpanjali was offered to Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Devi.

On behalf of the temple, Tarun Krishna Prabhu thanked everyone and on behalf of OCC, Dr. Samal offered his gratitude and invited everybody for joining the 2014 Snana Purnima (June 14, 2014), and the Rath Yatra (June 29, 2014).

The festival was concluded with a delicious vegetarian prasadam feast that was sponsored by OCC and prepared by the temple devotees. The devotees and guests pitched in to clean the temple room and the kitchen following in the footsteps of Puri Gajapati, who brooms the road in front of the Lord’s chariot. Undoubtedly, cleaning the Lord’s temple is the most sacred, blissful and rewarding job!

The presiding Deities at the temple are: Sri Radha Govindaji; Sri Gaura Nitai and Sri Sita Rama Laksmana Hanuman. There are six regular aaratis every day. Visitors are warmly welcomed and are especially invited to our Sunday services (5 – 7 PM). Gurukula classes for children in grades K-12 is at 5:45. You will find traditional Vedic teachings, worship and values in an American setting.

Sri Govindaji Gaudiya Matha temple is located at 16628 Kieth Harrow Blvd off Hwy 6 between I-10 and 290.

For further information, visit www.sggm.org or call (832) 464-4686.