The Grand Deepavali Bazaar at Sri Meenakshi Temple

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Erin Asprec,CEO Memorial Hermann Southeast, Mayor of Pearland Tom Reid, Joanne Barrett, Chief Nursing officer Kindred Hospital, Dr. Ramesh Patel (back) and MTS Chair Dr. Vaduganathan. Photos: Nandhu Radhakrishnan

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.

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Sri Mahalakshmi Rathothsavam at MTS Diwali on Saturday, October 18.

A feature of the festivities is the free community Health fair (running 19th year) and  was inaugurated by dignitaries (Erin Asprec, CEO Memorial Hermann Southeast hospital, Mayor Tom Reid and Joanne Barrett, Chief Nursing officer, Kindred Hospital). 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 and general medical checkup was conducted. 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.

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Kids Carnival at MTS Diwali Bazaar 2014

Devotees thronged all day with families offering prayers; by noon, the temple premises had turned into a little India.  The choices of delicious food items provided by the vendors, art competitions, facial paintings and the carnival games and a shiny Red Fire truck kept the children excitingly engaged.

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The Spectacular Fireworks at the MTS Diwali Bazaar (Ratham in foreground)

Many area merchants had their display of beautiful items for sale –  ornaments, jewels, clothes, sarees, gift items, paintings, handicrafts, imported art work, ayurvedic medicine, just to name a few. Information booths were set up to promote valuable services and innovative educational materials.

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Standing room only at MTS Diwali bazaar with over 4000 visitors

The 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.

By sunset, an elaborate set up was made by the priests for the traditional Lakshmi puja; this was preceded with the Diwali parade, where MTS was joined by Namadwar and ISKCON.  The dedicated priest of MTS inspired the devotees with Veda manthras and pushpa archana.  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.

The crowd rejoiced in the 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. They deserve congratulations for a meticulous job well done with the support of many benevolent well-wishers and supporters. We pray to Sri Meenakshi, Sri Sundareswara, Sri Padmavathi and Sri Venkateswara for a year of happiness and welfare to all.