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Grand Diwali and Annakut at ISKCON of Houston

Srila Prabhupada was taken around the temple general area being followed by estatic kirtan

Srila Prabhupada was taken around the temple general area being followed by estatic kirtan

ISKCON of Houston extravagantly celebrated Diwali, or Dipavali, on October 19th showcasing their magnificent deities, Sri Sri Radha Nilamadhava. This festival commemorates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after valiantly defeating the demon, Ravana, saving the people of Lanka from his reign of terror. The altar was decorated by hundreds of candles that illuminated the temple room during the special candlelight arati, that was attended by over 1,500 revelers. The ecstatic chanting of the Lord’s holy names lifted everyone’s spirits into ecstatic festive mood.
Govardhan Puja, or “Annakut” was celebrated the day after Diwali, and was met with another wave of devotees. On this day, Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill for the protection of his devotees from Lord Indra’s torrential rainfall upon the inhabitants of Vrindavan. This pastime was celebrated by the abhishek of Sri Giriraj, by bathing him in lavish liquid items such as milk, honey, variety of juices, ghee, and more. This sweet concoction of liquids would be served as “Charanamrita” to everyone. Thousands of food preparations adorned the altar, and was thereafter served as prasadam. Govardhan Puja was met with great satisfaction by all the attendees who savored the great tasting prasadam, and the wonderful kirtan.
On Sunday evening, the temple held Diwali cultural program, when the devotees began with chanting and dancing of the Lord’s holy names, or “Harinam”, in a parade across the temple grounds and onto the streets, while carrying Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada visited the newly completed apartment complex and soon to be completed Goswami Academy building.
Shortly after, the attendees of Sunday Feast were treated to a Govardhan Puja Musical by the children of Sunday school. Enacting the pastime of the lifting of Govardhan Hill, the children of Sunday school were met with great praise and appreciation.

The altar in front of Sri Sri Giriraj Govardhan and Sri Sri Radha Giridhari decorated with lamps

The altar in front of Sri Sri Giriraj Govardhan and Sri Sri Radha Giridhari decorated with lamps

COMM_ISKCON_Govardhan HillThe Sunday School Parents and Students came together to build a replica of the Govadhan Hill in Vrindavan. It was done with a mountain of carob cakes. The length of the hill was approx 16ft and 2 ft wide.The mountain by itself was made with over 100 lbs of carob cake. Then decorated with carob frosting, ponds around the lake made of agar agar , the grasses were made from dry coconut powder. The other decorations included edible flowers, glitters,cookies, many different varieties of cup cakes, traditional indian sweets and savories.
The mountain of food was made to commemorate the pastime of offering food to Govardhan Hill who is none other than Lord Krishna. When the inhabitants of Vrindavan were in danger because of torrential rains poured by Lord Indra, the king of heaven, Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill and saved them.
This pastime of lifting the Govardhan hill was enacted as a musical by the Sunday school children of ages between 12-16yrs. The musicals included pop, hip pop, rap and other forms of music to enact the pastime.
The program concluded with the Sunday school children leading the kirtan and performing Arati to the Govardhan Hill. Later all the offered food were distributed to the children and guests.
The festival of lights is here, and while Diwali in itself is a grand celebration, there are several other occasion that precede and succeed ‘the’ day. This year, Diwali was celebrated on October 19, and it is followed by Govardhan Puja on October 20. All these days have wonderful stories and significance attached to them, along with their distinct rituals. Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut/Annajoot, which means mountain of food, is commemorated by Hindus all across the world.
Visit us: 1320 West 34th Street in Houston. There is a Sunday Feast – happens every Sunday. Visit: isckonhouston.org


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