Deepavali Celebrations at Sri Meenakshi Temple

By Chandana Golla

PEARLAND: The day’s celebrations kicked off with an inauguration event of the 18th Annual Free Community Health Fair.  In attendance were the Southeast Memorial’s CEO Erin Asprec, the Mayor of Pearland Tom Reid, and Texas House Representative Ed Thomson.

Lakshmi Puja

Lakshmi Puja

“This is a free service. It’s for the community, so we bring not only free services, but we bring awareness of various things.” said Dr. Vaduganathan, the health fair coordinator.  Medical staff from Kindred hospital, UT Medical School, and Southeast Memorial Hospital, Cypress Springs Family care provided cancer screenings, vision and dental screenings, Flu shots, EKG, and blood tests (complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic profile, thyroid test and lipid profile).


Texas House representative Ed Thompson, Pearland Mayor Tom Reid and South East Memorial Hospital CEO Erin Asprec at the 18th annual MTS Health Fair.

The day’s celebrations continued with the opening of the various booths and the food court.  The booths sold clothing, jewelry, and books. “What brings me to Diwali is shopping, shopping, shopping… they give good deals, discounts for Diwali, so everyone comes here to shop,” said enthusiastic customer, Fatema Plumber.

Temple offered a raffle which included prizes such as Round  trip to Paris and an expensive, gold necklace.  The Indian American Cancer Network registered bone marrow donors. “We work very closely with a national marrow donor program. We’re trying to help other Indians by increasing the number of Indians on the registry… so that those suffering from blood cancer can find a matching donor,” said Sarvesh Phavaraju. The booth registered over 50 donors that day.

Meanwhile, in the food court, various Indian caterers served South Indian specialties such as dosa, idli, and vada.  Ana Jorgensen said “It’s great that there are so many new foods to try… I love the gobi!”

Others enjoyed the fun competition offered by the Rangoli competition and kid’s art competitions.

Following the competitions, the auditorium was packed with a full house excited to see the cultural program which included classical Indian dancing and singing. A main feature of the program included a snippet from Houston Grand Opera’s River of Light musical about Deepavali directed by Evan Wildstein, sang by Cecilia Duarte and Lee Gregory and accompanied by Keith Weber on piano. Tupil Narasiman, Chairman of MTS said the performance was awesome.  Padma Golla, the overall coordinator of the Diwali Celebration told that HGO is expected to perform the complete opera in March at the temple.

Meanwhile, outside, the kid’s carnival offered train rides, rock climbing, a mechanical bull, petting zoo, and magic shows. “I love the rock climbing wall at the carnival,” said Kani Maninckabasakam, 10.

The main event of the day was the Lakshmi puja and was well attended followed by the procession of Silver Ratham.

At around nine, the temple commenced a spectacular showing of fireworks.  Thousands crowded outside to see the professional fireworks.

Still, the night was not yet over.  Later, everyone joined in a circle to dance Garba with an accompanying live music band.

When asked if he would come back next year, Sarvesh Phavaraju emphatically answered, “Absolutely!”