HOUSTON: 2014 is an exciting year for the people of Houston as we celebrate the 25th year of the Janmasthami festival in Houston under the banner of Hindus of Greater Houston, an organization whose motto is to celebrate our festivals collectively. On the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, Saturday July 12, Hindus of Greater Houston brought together leaders from numerous Hindu organizations and temples to Keshav Smriti hall in order to discuss the preparations for the upcoming Janmashtami celebration.
The organization was fortunate to have the presence of Srila B. V. Dandi Maharaja, PhD, PE and founder of Sri Ranganatha Gaudiya Matha in Bangalore. He attended with leaders of Sri Govindaji Gaudiya Matha in Houston and blessed all the Hindu organizations on the occasion of the Janmastami meeting. He quoted Sanskrit verses from Gita Mahatamya and his message was that human beings seem to have different religions according to classifications of country, caste, or race, but in reality, all living beings throughout the multiple universes have only one eternal, immutable constitutional position – sanatana dharma.
President of Hindus of Greater Houston, Sharad Amin, was impressed with the active participation of leaders from 26 different organizations at the meeting. Amin wrote, “We received numerous recommendations on how to increase community participation, encourage volunteers, and open the festival to the mainstream Houston community.” Amin encouraged the attendees to invite their non-Indian friends in order to get a glimpse of a true Indian festival where everyone is welcome. With an expectation of achieving crowds of over 10000, Amin anticipates that it it can be a reality with the collective efforts of all the organizations in Houston.
Partha Krishnaswamy, Vice-President of Hindus of Greater Houston and Janmasthami Coordinator, commented, “Every organization that participated in today’s meeting felt part of Hindus of Greater Houston and their willingness to support this Janmasthami event is a very satisfying sentiment.” Krishnaswamy also reminded everyone that Hindus of Greater Houston is not a separate entity or group of people. It is made up of individuals who are already part of temples and organizations but strongly believe in the unity and strength of coming together as one whether to celebrate a special festival or to come to the aid of one who has befallen tragedy.
All attendees were given a few minutes to briefly discuss their organization and how they hope to contribute to the celebration. Some organizations pledged volunteer engagement, others wanted to help with Prasad distribution, and it was a welcome surprise to have a number of organizations pledge monetary support on the spot. Krishnaswamy also got the momentum going when he announced the guests and artists who would be attending this year’s event, including the very popular Saurabh Raj Jain, who plays the part of Krishna in the new Mahabharata series. Anita Pandit from Sajda Sisters of X-Factor India fame will also be a special guest along with a live Raas Garba band for the entertainment of the youth. One of the most talked about groups in the exotic world of music, the uplifting Mayapuris who have traveled the world with their dynamic drum dances will also be on stage with their powerful mridangas to engage the youth with their soulful and hip energetic kirtan performances. Special efforts are being made this year to have a little something for all ages to enjoy whether it be the puja in the beginning , procession , kirtan , or garbha dance. We hope to engage each and every person in the audience for sure this year! Attendees will be welcomed with a spectacular Rangoli on ice by award-winning Houston artist Sangeeta Bhutada and an unparalleled food court. The evening will also include a costume contest depicting the Dashavatars, exciting cultural programs, kid’s Matki-Fod and activities, art contest, the most anticipated live Raas-Garba, and traditional midnight aarti. In addition to having the beautifully decorated temple and nonprofit organization booths, this year marks the first time that commercial booths will also be available.
Coordinators for the different segments were introduced at the meeting including Richa Dixit (832-451-7206) for volunteer opportunities, Dharminder Dargan (713-855-9818) for website, Sheetal Rathi (281-597-8794) for costume contest, Charlie Patel (832-423-7979) for non profit and commercial booth registration, Ravi Sharma (303-589-0053) for advertisements and article submission for the 25th anniversary special souvenir, Sharad Amin (713-962-8523) for donations and sponsorship activities. For details regarding this grand celebration can visit www.hindusofhouston.org You can also contact Chairperson Partha Krishnaswamy at 713-962-8523.
In addition, B. V. Dandi Maharaja has done extensive research on Science & Spirituality and has published several books and articles. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org