Diwali and Govardhan Puja at Gaudiya Matha Temple

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HOUSTON: The Sri Govinda Gaudiya Math temple celebrated Diwali last Thursday with celebrations that began soon after the partial Solar eclipse of the sun – an auspicious sign for the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. Several volunteers had worked tirelessly for two weeks to decorate the temple with lights, flowers, rangoli, and streamers. On Diwali, several devotees participated in the Mangal Aarti at 5:30 AM. The Deities were offered a new, gorgeous blue-colored dress. Their transcendental beauty in this new dress captivated the hearts of all who came for darshans throughout the day. In the evening, the altar was lit with hundreds of multi-colored lights. Several hundred devotees, wearing new beautiful clothes, participated enthusiastically in the aarti filling the temple room with chants of the Holy Names.

The next evening on Friday, hundreds of devotees gathered again to celebrate Govardhan Pooja and Annakut. The program included bhajans, kirtan, aarti, offering of ghee lamps to Lord Damodar and Tulasi Pooja. There was an added treat to the evening: Annakut – the mountain of food. The devotees each brought many different dishes, to offer to Sri Sri Radha Govindaji. Over 1008 different food preparations, representing tastes from Punjab to Tamil Nadu and from Bengal to Gujarat, were offered to Sri Giriraja Govardhan. Everyone circumambulated the Govardhan Hill, singing the glories of the Lord and remembering the pastime of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan Hill and saving His dear devotees from the wrath of Indra.

As described in Srimad Bhagavatam, Indra was upset because upon the advice of Lord Krishna, the Brajavasis (the residents of Vrindavan) had decided to worship Giriraj Govardhan instead of the annual ritual of worshipping Indra.  Indra had no idea that this cowherd boy Krishna was in fact the Supreme Lord. Deluded by his false sense of power, Indra decided to lash out at the Brajavasis by pouring heavy rains and flooding and destroying them.  The helpless villagers went to Krishna, and surrendered to Him as they had completed faith in Him. Lord Krishna then lifted the Govardhan Hill on the pinky finger of His left hand.  All the villagers and the animals took shelter underneath Govardhan Hill which protected them from the heavy rains.  This lasted for seven days until Indra finally gave up, bowed down to the Lord, and restored peace. Giriraj Govardhan is Krishna Himself in one form as well as Krishna’s best devotee in another form. He takes the form of a mountain to serve the Lord. He is extremely merciful and famous for fulfilling all the desires. More than that he can give pure love and devotion unto the lotus feet of Lord Krishna for sincere seekers. It is a verdict of the scriptures that even if one offers one grain of rice to Giriraj Govardhan, that person will never be poor in life.

After the aarti, Shri Ravi Puri sang several melodious Krishna bhajans making everyone swoon in ecstasy. The program was concluded with a huge feast that enchanted everyone.

Sri Govinda Gaudiya Math temple (www.sggm.org) is located at 16628 Kieth Harrow Blvd. The temple is located just off Hwy 6 between I-10 and 290, near the Energy Corridor and Katy. The temple is open every day from 5:30 AM – 8:30 PM. The main service is on Sunday evenings from 5 – 7 PM. It includes: kirtan and Hari Katha followed by Aarati and parasadam. Hindi classes as well as Vedic education classes are held for children aged four through eighteen (all classes are conducted in English).