Celebrations of Diwali and Govardhan Puja at ISKCON of Houston

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HOUSTON: ISKCON of Houston held jubilant festivals of Diwali, “Festival of Lights” on Oct. 23 and Govardhan Puja on Oct. 24. The temple was bustling with numerous volunteers performing a multitude of services in preparation for these special occasions.  Devotees engaged in cleaning, decor of flower strands and arrangements, setting up lights, and preparing candles.  This inevitably showed the result of how much detail and care every single volunteer placed into making the newly opened temple wonderfully enchanting.

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Colorful flowers hugged the pillars of the altar and strands hung over with twinkles of light. Every color imaginable was visible either on the flower decor, the deities, the changing back drop lighting or the sea of colorful sparkling saris in the temple room.

Diwali signifies victory of light over darkness, good will over maliciousness and love over hate. HH Giriraj Swami enlightened the crowd with a lecture from Bhagavad Gita. The anticipated moment of candlelight aarti approached as the lights dimmed and the temple room grew quiet.  Seconds later, the curtains unveiled spiritual glamour taking everyone’s breath away as hundreds of small floating white and red candles, set in rows, covered the altar floor.  The two pillars installed on each side of Sri Sri Radha Nila Madhava displayed tall white candles framing the transcendental couple. The deities, stunning in their special outfits, glowed so brilliantly illuminating everyone’s heart in their presence.

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The next day, celebration continued for Govardhan puja which celebrates the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra by lifting the Govardhan hill.  Govardhan hill is also worshipped as Krishna’s incarnation. Devotees prepare foodstuff, which are offered to the deities. HH Giriraj Swami blessed all with his presence as he performed abhishek for Sri Giri Govardhan.  HH Giriraj Swami attentively bathed the deity and then shared a pastime of Krishna and Govardhan hill from the Nava-Vraja Mahima.  He mentioned how Krishna went in through a cave to the center of Govardhan hill and lifted it up with his small finger.

The altar was filled at every inch with preparations during maha aarti.  Silver tins and pans contained an array of items from gulab jamun, cupcakes, peanut butter burfi, pies, cakes, cookies, chapatis, coconut sweets and all kinds of treats.

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The melodious mantra tunes had devotees immersed in ecstatic dancing and singing. Sri Giri Govardhan in the center of the temple allowed guests & devotees the opportunity to circumambulate the hill – a very auspicious activity.  It was quite an emotional scene to view so many circumambulating with such loving expression and gratitude.

There is no doubt that these two days of festivities will remain as a significant memorable experience to everyone that attended.  It is said that love is displayed by great activities and gestures.  The best way for one to feel and see such phenomenon of beauty based on love for Krishna, is to experience it for yourself.

Krishna’s door is always open for everyone. Happy New Year to all of our friends.

Iskcon of Houston is located at 1320 West 34th Street, Houston, TX 77018. For further details visit www.iskconofhouston.org