Diwali & Govardhan Puja (New Year) At ISKCON of Houston



HOUSTON: Hundreds of guests attended the fabulous festivities that were held at ISKCON of Houston on Wednesday, November 11, for Diwali and Thursday, November 12, for Govardhan Puja.

Diwali, also known as “festival of lights” is a significant holiday as it marks the beginning of a new year. It is celebrated on the 15th day of Kartika in the Hindu calendar. It is believed that on this day, Lord Ramachandra returned after a 14-year exile. During that time, he battled and defeated demons.  People light candles in their homes to celebrate the victorious defeat over evil or light over darkness.

HH Amala Bhakta Swami facilitated a class on the meaning of Diwali.  He indicated to audience that on this day, not only did good defeat bad but also that ignorance was defeated by knowledge and materialism was defeated by spirituality.  He reminded guests to be thankful every day for the many blessings received, as they all come from Lord Krishna.



The beautiful temple was breathtaking as it was transformed into elegance with decor of arrangements of fresh flowers and white stringed lights accentuating the pillars of the temple room.  The altar was bedecked as well with stringed colorful lights,  arrays of fruits – bananas, pineapples, apples, oranges, and lemons.  The deities were stunning wearing beautiful shimmering dark green outfits with hints of yellow. They were adorned with matching yellow and white roses crowned on their heads making them look like the king and queen of the city.

Eager guests waited patiently for the moment the curtains opened to the altar revealing the candle-lights.  When they did, there was a unison gasp from the guests as hundreds of red tea light candles covered the altar.  The glow of the candle-light enveloped the altar giving it a celestial presence.

More kirtan embarked enthusiastically as guests took darshan of the ethereal deities.

The following day is both the Indian New Year and the Govardhan Puja celebration. This day is observed as the day that Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill, with his pinky, to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavan from the torrential rains and flooding brought forth by Lord Indra lasting seven days. It is only on this day that food items prepared by congregation members are offered to the deities.

An abhishekh, a bathing ceremony with water and different fruit juices, was performed for Sri Giriraj Govardhan by pujaris, HH Amala Bhakta Swami and HH Bhakti Sundar Goswami.  The Sunday School children created pleasing dry fruit garlands for Sri Giriraj. The audience’s attention was focused on Sri Giriraj as he received service from his beaming  pujaris as each took their turn in the abhishekh. Sri Giriraj’s tender smile radiated affectionately.


Govardhan Hill

Every inch of the altar was covered in a multitude of sweets and other preparations.  There were gulab jamuns, sweet rice, cupcakes, halava, cake, cookies, pizza – just to name a few.  Even the nooks behind the deities were covered with jalebis, kheer, motichoor laddus and burfi.  These offering made with love and devotion to their Lordships were then distributed among guests.

One incredible piece of artwork displayed for this special festival was a miniature replica of Govardhan Hill created by a team of devotees.  It included everything one would expect to see on Govardhan Hill from temples, cows, monkeys, parrots, peacocks and trees with mangoes. There was even a miniature Krishna himself playing the flute, mesmerizing inhabitants of Govardhan Hill.

On Sunday, there was pushpanjali in honor of the disappearance day of His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON.  His disciples and grand disciples read heartfelt offerings to their beloved spiritual preceptor and guide. This loving congregation would not have been gathered if it was not for the compassionate Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who brought enlightment to the west.

These celebrations could not have happened without the effort and hard work of devotees and volunteers as they prepared weeks in advance for these special observances; from the fascinating décor, to traffic flow of guests, to serving the feast and cleaning. There couldn’t have been a happier, magical place in the city than ISKCON of Houston.