Monday, August 31, 2009

Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations in Texas

Lord Krishna, the god of love with his consort Radha

Over the weekend we had been to Houston to participate in the well organized, colorful, and wonderfully scintillating Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations. The festival was organized by Hindus of Greater Houston, a non-profit organization formed to promote Hinduism and remove the popular misconceptions about the oldest religion in the world. The beauty of the event was that there was no fees charged either for visitors or for vendors who kept booths. The only condition however was that only Hindu non-profit organizations were permitted to have booths.

This was the first time I felt a Hindu presence in the United States. Temples and other spiritual locations apart this was the only ceremony which had a pure Hindu feel to it. Part of the feel came from the fact that everyone who entered the auditorium were asked to remove their foot wear as a mark of respect to the deities installed there. Nearly every large temple in Houston had their booth with a picture of their deity or the Utsav Murti. This was one place where we could a glimpse of various gods and goddesses in one place.

The ceremonies were quite similar to those festivities organized in ashrams of modern Hindu Swamis like the Prasanna Trust or Art of Living Foundation. The highlight of the evening was live performance by Ghazal Maestro Anup Jalota who held the audience spellbound by his rendition of devotional songs dedicated to Lord Rama and Krishna.

There were numerous other performances by children, Krishna costume competition and the event was capped up by a Dandia or community dance which went on for about an hour and half. The devotional evening started off at 5.30 pm and continued until 1.00 am. As I came out of the auditorium I was heady in the spirituality and felt really happy that at last I have participated in a proper Hindu festival celebration. I wish similar festivals could be organized in Dallas too and every other American city where there is a Hindu presence.

Ceremonial welcome to guests on a carpet flanked by traditional figures

The center of attraction a mega rangoli with Radha-Krishna idol in the center

Ghazal Maestro Anup Jalota rendering soul soothing devotional songs

Packed auditorium during Anup Jalota's performance

The band of Guruvaurappan temple getting ready for performance

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