Record Attendance at the Season’s First Durga Puja at Vedanta Society

Photos: Jiten Patel

Photos: Jiten Patel

By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: The pleasant, breezy, sunny weather prompted devotees to come out in throngs to attend the Vedanta Society of Greater Houston (VSGH) Durga Puja on October 13. The weather was just picture perfect to usher in Maa Durga with her children to Houston. VSGH takes pride in celebrating Durga Puja with immense piety, dedication and sincerity. This was the first Durga Puja for our resident Swami Atmarupananda. Recovering from a recent hip replacement surgery, he could not assist with conducting the puja, but presided in organizing the event, ensuring all aspects of the program were well taken care of.

Nabapatrika and the idol of Mother Durga were carried to the nicely decorated pandal outdoors to the auspicious beat of the Dhak and the blowing of the shankh early in the morning, creating a divine atmosphere. Mother Durga and kalabau were decorated in festive splendor and Mother was ready to welcome and bless all her devotees.

As is the norm every year, VSGH was honored to have Swami Kripamayananda, head of the Toronto Vedanta Society conduct the puja, his 7th year in a row. Dr. Amrit Achari, assisted with the Chandipath, and Buddhadeb who traveled from Toronto with Swami Kripamayanada assisted in conducting the puja. The puja commenced on time at 9:30 AM with great austerity and devotion.

The melodious devotional songs sung by the VSGH choir made the environment reverberate with divinity. The puja ended with the beautiful arati performed by the Swami with the chandelier lamp, and pushpanjali, the offering of flowers, by devotees. Mother Durga seemed to have control over Mother Nature too, as the weather remained very pleasant throughout the day for the devotees. A record crowd of approximately 700 people attended the VSGH Durga Puja this year.

Devotees were all enjoying the spiritual ambience. Being a very breezy day, ladies were trying to tend to their hair, which was flying out of control. The chandelier lamps were hard to keep lit and at one point Kalabau next to Lord Ganesh had to be retied down from falling.

Fruit & lunch prasad were served in the adjacent tent to all attendees. The entire proceedings went very smoothly without a glitch. What was very inspiring to note was the increase in the number of devotees this year compared to last year probably signifying the increased popularity of VSGH and more interest in seeking Maa Durga’s blessings.

Dignitaries in attendance were the Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray, Pandit Suman Ghosh, and author, poet Chitra Divakaruni. They all commented that this is one event throughout the year that they would never miss. Swami Kripamayananda always comments, “This is the best Durga Puja held in the west,” and it gives him immense pleasure and fulfillment in conducting the Durga Puja in Houston.

VSGH will celebrate Kali Puja at 7:30 p.m. on Novemver 6, 2018. Worship will be performed by Swami Nirakarananda of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis. All are invited. Please visit for information on all VSGH activities.