Grand Deepavali Bazaar 2015 Festivities at Sri Meenakshi Temple

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Photos: Nandhu Radhakrishnan

By Chitoor Ramachandran

PEARLAND: Sri Meenakshi Temple looked extraordinarily vibrant starting from the daybreak on Saturday, October 18 with the morning Suprabhadam to welcome Sri Venkateswara and Sri Lakshmi to the beautiful dawn.   The festive look of the temple with colorful lights, huge tents and filled parking lots were all indicative of a grand celebration. Deepavali (Diwali) literally means Festival of Lights with an ancient message to erase darkness of ignorance with the light of knowledge.Sri Meenakshi Temple Society’s (MTS) annual Diwali bazaar is a much looked forward to celebration every year and the 2015 festivities was no exception.  Dedicated volunteers working hard for this past one week made Sunday, November 1st yet another memorable blissful Diwali Bazaar at MTS. With the beautiful decorations, early morning chanting of slokas welcoming the deities, the day was destined to be memorable. Even though the weather decided to bless us with continues drizzle/rain through the day, this did not dampen the mood of the crowd that were ready to enjoy the day at the Diwali bazaar.

The Health fair at the Diwali bazaar ribbon cutting by Mayor Tom Reid and Kyle Price: CEO Memorial Herman Southeast hospital with Dr and Mrs Vadyganathan.

A key feature of the Diwali bazaar is the annual Health Fair.  A feature of the festivities is the Health fair and this year with dignitaries (Erin Asprec, CEO Memorial Hermann Southeast hospital, Hon. Mayor Tom Reid and Joanne Barrett, Chief Nursing officer, Kindred Hospital) inaugurated the 19th annual free community Health fair. Kindred Hospital and their staff provided all the blood tests. Dr. Nirmala Kethineni of Cypress Spring Family clinic provided Flu shots (either free or heavily subsidized price). Free tests included: EKG, Complete Blood count, Comprehensive metabolic profile, Lipid profile, and TSH, vision and dental screening, urologic screening, women wellness check, and General medical checkup. Dr. Ramesh Patel gave lectures on vegetarian diet, stress management and cardiac risk screening. Temple chairman and coordinator of the Health Fair Dr. P. Vaduganathan thanked the Health professionals and volunteers.The 19th Annual Health Fair was a huge success in spite of the rain. More people lined up for registration at 8.30 am. The health fair was inaugurated by Honorable Mayor Tom Reid and Kyle Price, the CEO of Memorial Herman Southeast hospital. Several local physicians from various specialties, nurses and technicians from Kindred Hospital and Southeast memorial hospital volunteered. EKG, Blood tests such as CBC, complete metabolic profile, Lipid profile, TSH, General medical advice, Visin screening all were provided free. Since there was a continuous flow of registrants, testing continued until 1.30pm. Chairman Dr. Vaduganathan, thanked  all those who volunteered on behalf of MTS.

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MTS 2016 Calendar release with Mayor Tom Reid, Dr Vaduganathan (Chairman) S. Narayanan (Vice Chair and Calendar coordinator).

A continuous stream of Devotees were throngedstreaming all day with families to offering p prayers, ; by noon, the temple premises had turned into a little India.  Thepartake in choices of delicious food items provided by the vendors, art competitionsworkshop, facial paintings and the carnival games and a shiny Red Fire truck kept the children excitingly engaged.

Many area merchants had their display of beautiful items for saleThe bazaar stalls transported all visitors to mini India with –  ornaments, jewels, clothes, sarees, gift items, paintings, handicrafts, imported art work, ayurvedic medicine, just to name a few. Information  booths on the upcoming Kumbhabhishekam (consecration of the renovated main Temple) were set up to promote valuable services and innovative educational materialswas provided.

This year’s theme of Devas and Asuras formed the backdrop to the Kids Fancy dress e variety of entertainment demonstrated the wealth of culture in the Indian community living in Greater Houston area. While the children entertained the crowd with their impressive talents, the outstanding classical dance performance by Krithika Subrahmanian and group entertained the audience packed in the Kalyanamandapam.   This was followed by the Dance competition with the MTS perpetual trophy changing hands.

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By sunset, with the early onset of dusk (day light savings finished already in Sunday) the Priests had prepared a beautiful alankaram of Sri Maha Lakshmi for the traditional Lakshmi Pooja. elaborate set up made by the priests for the traditional Lakshmi puja, with the Diwali parade –where MTS was joined by Namadwar and ISKCON as lead in.  The dedicated priest of MTS inspired the devotees with The Lakshmi Sahasranama and Veda manthras and ppushpa archana was intently followed by devotees.  The utsava murthy of Sri Lakshmi was taken out on the majestic silver chariot pulled by hundreds of devotees with thousands assembled all around the temple to have a darshan of this auspicious scene. The exhilarating sound of Chenda Melam led the Rathotsavam.

A real kudos to the young volunteers from the VHS who enthusiastically took part in the Diwali bazaar food drive, alternating with helping at the Kids carnival.  The enthusiastic crowd of 4000 rejoiced the day’s proceedings, whether inside the Youth center bazaars or in the Kids Carnival area.evening of a spectacular firework, which was followed by Garba with live music. The mood was just exhilarating till the end.

We thank the volunteers and employees of MTS for organizing such a flawless festival year after year for two decades.All the Temple staff deserve our sincere thanks for the hard work both before and during the Diwali bazaar with many last minute issues that the rain posed.   The success of a big event like Diwali bazaar requires many hands working together and indeed the 2015 Diwali bazaar is a testimony again.  They deserve congratulations for a meticulous job well done with the support of many benevolent well-wishers and supporters. We pray to Sri Meenakshi for a year of happiness and welfare.