First Durga Puja of 2016 Organized by VSGH Draws Record Crowds


By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: One couldn’t have asked for better weather to kick off Debi paksha, Navratri and Mahalaya with Durga Puja on October 1 at the Vedanta Society of Greater Houston grounds. Swami Kripamayananda, head of the Toronto Vedanta Society presided over the event, his 5th year in a row.

The day started with Mother Durga’s image being carried to the pandal outdoors to the auspicious beat of the dhak and the blowing of the shankh (conch shell). Mother Durga and kalabau were decorated in festive splendor and Mother was ready to welcome and bless all her devotees.


The puja commenced on time at 9:30 a.m. with great austerity and devotion. The accompaniment of Chandi chanting by Dr. Amrit Achari, a neurosurgeon in Houston, added to the sanctity and divinity of the holy atmosphere.

The melodious devotional songs sung by the VSGH choir during the puja created a very spiritual environment. Mother Durga seemed to have control over Mother Nature too, as the weather remained very pleasant throughout the day for the devotees. An additional bonus was the presence of Pandit Suman Ghsoh, a local North Indian classical vocal maestro, with his family. They too enchanted the devotees with renditions of Durga bhajans.

The puja ended with the beautiful arati performed by the Swami with the chandelier lamps, and pushpanjali, the offering of flowers, by devotees. By noon, the pandal was overflowing with devotees and the pushpanjali had to be repeated for the latecomers. A record crowd of almost 500 people attended the VSGH Durga Puja this year.


Fruit & lunch prasad were served to all attendees. Swami Kripamayananda at the end of the puja commented, “This is the best Durga Puja held in the west,” and also added that it gives him immense pleasure and fulfillment in conducting the Durga Puja in Houston.

Swapna Chaudhuri informed the gathering about the upcoming projects of VSGH. After its affiliation to the parent organization Belur Math, VSGH is preparing to welcome the new resident minister, Swami Vedaswarupananda, whose immigration paperwork is currently being processed. Due to increased demands, VSGH is looking at blueprints to extend the side patio to create a classroom/dining hall for the devotees. Appeals were made to donate generously to make all these projects come to fruition.

VSGH will celebrate Kali Puja at 7:00 p.m. on October 28, 2016. Worship will be performed by Dr. Bishnupada Goswami.