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Janmashtami 2016 Press Release

Festivals are great unifiers and the spectacular 27th Janamastami celebration at the George Brown Convention center on 10th September was no exception. With around 65 organizations supporting this event, the Hindus of Greater Houston lived up to its mission of bringing Hindus together to celebrate festivals collectively.  Many senior members of the community were also present thanks to a bus sponsored every year by HGH.

ISKCON devotees welcomed the attendees with Chandan Tilak. Limca Book record holder Sangita Bhutada’s Rangoli themed on the Raas Leela at the entrance and created singlehandedly in 10 hours once again garnered a great deal of attention and praise. A giant sized baby Krishna formed a fitting backdrop on the stage – a gift by Gopal Agarwal and decorated tastefully by Mandap Creations.

houston-krishna-gana-sudha

After a traditional procession with Sri Meenakshi temple provided Garuda Vahana accompanied by the chenda melum drummers by Ganesh Rajamani, an invocatory song in 12 different Indian languages was performed by 25 musicians from the Houston Krishna Gana Sudha. Nearly 100 children came dressed as Krishna or Radha for a costume contest organized painstakingly by Shital Rathi while others displayed their talent in the Jhanki (a group depiction with props).

City Controller Chris Brown was also present with wife Divya. The couple said that they enjoyed dressing up their 1 year old daughter, Milana, for the costume contest and emphasized the need to preserve the cultural norms for the next generation.

chris-and-divya-brown-with-baby-milana

City Controller Chris Brown was also present with wife Divya.

The Ashtalakshmi temple presented a short video on their plans for the 1000th year celebrations of Ramanuja Acharya followed by an interesting cultural program with multiple styles of dances of India presented by the professional dance schools of Houston.

“An American born well-read scholar on the various aspects of Hinduism and a recipient of the civilian award of “Padma Bhushan” from the Government of India in 2015 for his distinguished work of highest order to the nation through his work and writings as a Vedic teacher” was the introduction given for the Chief Guest of the evening – Acharya Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastry). In his address, Acharya Frawley stated many relevant ideas to overcome ignorance and awaken the inner spirit of love and power that is embodied in each one of us. He also encouraged all Hindus in Houston, whether as individuals, families, groups or temples, to join in and support the crucial work of Hindus of Greater Houston to “keep the Hindu community vibrant, relevant and a power for positive change for all humanity.”

costume-contest-group-2

Costume Contest 2016

A special tribute was also paid to His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj whose inspiration, guidance and mentoring has taken the BAPS worldwide. An audio visual presentation by the BAPS Mandir of Houston highlighted his achievements.

2016’s Lifetime Achievement Service Award was presented to Sam Kannapan, a community leader who was monumental in spearheading the Sri. Meenakshi temple in Pearland and Dilip Mehta, a founder member of the Hindus of Greater Houston who has a  strong affinity for Sanatan Dharma and is also associated with the Hindu Mahasabha of North America.

The Akhil Chopra “Unsung Heroes” Award given in memory of Akhil Chopra, was presented to Vivek Sharda who is actively involved with the Hindu Yuwa chapter of the University of Houston and has been supporting and volunteering for several Indian organizations

This year, HGH felicitated community leaders Jugal Malani and Ramesh Bhutada and thanked them for their generosity and sustained support for the Janmastami celebrations. They were both presented with Philanthropy Awards.

cultural-program

The moon walk, art contest, Matki Phod, cotton candy, face painting kept the children entertained while allowing their parents to enjoy the program and browse through the several booths. Delicious vegetarian snacks & juices proved popular with the crowds.

Immediately following the Arati, the youngsters took to the floor dancing nimbly to the pulsating beats of Darshak Thacker’s energetic drumming which blended with the traditional Dandiya songs by Kashmira Nayak. It didn’t take long for their parents to follow suit.

rangoli-with-dandiya-sangita-bhutada

HGH President Partha Krishnaswamy and event coordinator for the past 9 years said that he was extremely satisfied with the creativity and quality of the event delivered by the highly dedicated HGH team and the positive feedback from many of the attendees to the event.

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