Rain Stops for Houston ka Raja

shivshakti 5

Photos: Aisha Khan, Hardik Raval and Vanshika Vipin



Umang Mehta

Photos: Aisha Khan, Hardik Raval and Vanshika Vipin



By Malay Vyas

HOUSTON: Jwala si chalti hai aankhon mein jiske bhi dil mein tera naam hai…Shiv Shakti Temple and Masala Radio’s Sunil Thakkar and the Crazy Masala Crew led Houston’s biggest Indian block party – Ganesh Mahotsav Visarjan with over two thousand devotees biding adieu to their beloved Raja, the 9 ft tall Lord Ganesha on Sunday, September 7, from the Shiva Shakti Mandir in the Gandhi District.

Dharti ambar sitare…Uski nazare utaare… Just 2 hours before the 4th annual outdoor Ganesh Mahotsav Visarjan Festival, dark skies and ominous thunder and lightning greeted the parade. Houston Police announced that the city street permit was not valid in rain and requested nearly one thousand dancing devotees to get back in their cars. Undaunted, they prayed with Shri Virat Maharaj to Ganpathi Bappa, the remover of all Obstacles, and suddenly the rain halted. This year’s procession was led by dholi’s, a colorful Masala Rickshaw, and the ubiquitous Mumbai taxi. Houston Ka Raja was next in a truck with priests and temple VIPs, followed by the brand new orange and yellow Masala Hummer blasting the latest Bollywood Ganesha songs. Masala Radio Jockeys danced on the Masala Hummer roof as Ganesha fans danced in the streets, and the procession moved at a languid pace to the Olympic Center where a thousand more devotees awaited their beloved Ganpati Bappa

Teri bhakti ka vardaan hai…Jo kamaaye woh dhanvaan hai…millionaires and students alike enjoyed the action packed Ganesh celebration. Masala Entertainment included DJ Zee, Dholi Rax, live singers Bela Modi and Mallika Ghei, spontaneous crowd tapoori dance contests with jewelry and kurti prizes from India Jewelers and Jaipur, to Infused Performing Arts’ finale Ganesh dance on a 40 foot stage. In-spite of the weather and the chances of the rain to return, Dharshak Thakkar of Krishna Sounds provided the excellent sound system for the event. Animesh Patel of Subhlaxmi Grocers said “it just keeps getting bigger and better every year!” Crowds made dual lines to partake in Prasad: Idli Sambhar from Akshay Caters Southern Express food truck, Shiv Sagar’s Dabeli, Himalaya’s Veg Biryani, Gathia from London Sweets, Neeta’s Indian Cuisine’s Vada Pav, chilled Deep Foods Juices by Umang Mehta, Nimbu Pani from Chandrika Masala and water bottles from Subhlaxmi Grocers. Sara International’s Ramesh Parikh donated decorated trucks that held nearly one hundred Ganesh’s, and Harry Saihni allowed the use of the Olympic Center Parking lot. As the temple presented plaques to the donors, Sunil Thakkar thanks the trustees and organizers of Shiv Shakti Mandir including Virat Maharaj, Dhiru Khotak, Ashok Bhambhani, Rajan Bhatia and Hardik Raval for allowing him to relive his childhood Mumbai Ganpati Visarjans. The Maha Arti was conducted with much religious fervor followed by chants of Ganpati Bappa Morya, Purcha Varshi Luvkar Yaa (Long Live Lord Ganesh, Come back soon next year). Next, at the lake near Madras Pavilion in Sugarland, the Ganesh’s were immersed by Sunil Thakkar, Dilip Kanabar and Ninad Gupte. MP co-owner Alpa Shah personally welcomed devotees with Tilak ceremony and generous portions of traditional chana and sheera prasad, and Shrenik and Payal of Baskin Robbins Grand Parkway passed out ice cream.

Ganesha is the most adored of the Hindu deities; not only is he young, he is also one of the few who “visits” your home. Celebrated on the fourth day of Bhadra month, festivities for this ‘child-god’ last for ten days ending on “ananth chaturthi”. Staphna is the day you bring Him into your house and treat Him like a part of your family. After 10 days, Ganesha leaves to go back to his family – visarjan – again, and goodbyes are celebrated because He is expected to visit again next year purcha varshi luvkar ya.

Tujhko Phir Se Jalwa Dikhana Hi Hoga…Agle Baras Aana Hai, Aana Hi Hoga.

Shiv Shakti Temple welcomes your tax-deductible donations at 6640 Harwin, Houston, Texas 77036 or contact Virat Maharaj or Hardik Raval at the Temple at 713-784-5500.

Masala Radio thanks their Event Management Sandhya, Munira, Ruchir, Shah, Event Crew Ninad, Sandeep, Rishi, Ruhi, Ajitbhai, Simran, Sahil, Priyanshi, and Angel, Masala Radio Jockeys Preanka, Rajoo, Dilip, Ina, Sushil, and Priya for braving the weather with their peerless skills, energy, and devotion to Lord Ganesh.