Vedanta Society Of Greater Houston Celebrates Sri Durga Puja

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HOUSTON: The year 2015 has been a very delightful and active year for the devotees of the Vedanta Society of Greater Houston (VSGH). After enjoying the visits by twelve monks (one of them being Revered Swami Suhitanandaji Maharaj, the General Secretary and Head of the Administration of the Ramakrishna Order, and another Swami Sarvapriyanandaji Maharaj, one of the best speakers of the Order ); getting a lot of young devotees involved in the two very successful Youth Programs; and observing Sri Ramakrishna’s Birthday with a wonderful worship and beautiful Homa, performed by Sw. Mahayoganandaji Maharaj, an American Swami of the Order, the devotees celebrated Sri Durga Puja on Saturday, October 17.

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Sri Durga Puja is an annual celebration of the VSGH which is held in the open, under a tent in the premises of the temple. It began in 2009 on the open lot, even before the present building was constructed. The worship is performed by a monk of the Ramakrishna Order.

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Saturday, October, 17 was like one of the beautiful “Sharad” season days in India – a cool sunny day, with some white clouds in the sky, the sunshine not bright, but still had a rich golden color. It was so nostalgic that some of us who had grown up with Durga Pujas in India could remember and smell the fragrance of the blooming ‘Parijat’, or ‘Shiuli” flowers, and recollect the white swaying “Kash” flowers (Kans Grass) in the light breeze. The celebration began with the statue of Mother Durga being carried to the ‘mandap’ to the accompaniment of the lively beats of the ‘dhak’ and the blowing of the ‘conch shell’. The devotees decorated her with flowers, bouquets, garlands and “chandmalas”, and She looked radiant and blissful. Her entrancing eyes showered blessings on each and every one present. The puja, performed by Swami Kripamayanandaji Maharaj of the Vedanta Center of Toronto, began at 10 a.m. The divinity of the worship was further enhanced by the accompaniment of ‘Chandi’ chanting by Dr. Amrit Achari, a neurosurgeon in Houston; and Dr. Bishnupada Goswami, the priest from Durga Bari.  The beautiful devotional songs sung by the VSGH choir during the prayers further augmented the sanctity of the celebrations. It seemed like even the weather was offering its salutations to Mother Durga by keeping the temperature very comfortable for the devotees. The puja ended with the magnificent ‘Arati’ performed by the Swami with the chandelier lamps, and ‘pushpanjali’, the offering of flowers, by each and every devotee. Fruit & lunch prasad were served to all attendees. Many of the devotees commented that the Durga Puja celebrations at VSGH bring back wistful memories of their childhood and youthful days during Durga Puja in India.

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VSGH still has a couple of programs in its calendar. On Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, VSGH will celebrate Kali Puja at 7:30 p.m. Worship will be performed by Dr. Bishnupada Goswami, the priest from Durga Bari and dinner prasad will be served. Furthermore, from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22, Pravrajika Vrajaprana, a nun from the Santa Barbara Vedanta Convent will be visiting VSGH and will be conducting a retreat on “Holy Company & its Value”.

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