ISKCON of Houston celebrated the most anticipated festival of year, the appearance of Lord Krishna, also referred to as Krishna Janmashtami on Sunday, August 17th. An estimated 8,000 visitors attended this event at the recently completed state of the art spiritual center in Houston.
An ancient tradition to commemorate the divine appearance of Lord Krishna, whom the Vedic literatures profess to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. ISKCON of Houston has been observing this festival for over 35 years to date and the newly constructed spectacular “blue palace” attracted thousands of visitors throughout the day. A multitude of flower garlands, made of fresh marigolds and roses heightened the charm of the sparkling marble decor of the temple room. Iskcon is renowned for high standards in deity worship and this year’s Janmashtami in Houston was no exception. The temple is home to the beautiful deities of Sri Sri Radha Nilamadhava. On either side of the Divine couple are Gaura Nitai and Giriraj with recently installed Sri Radha Giridhari. The altar looked magnificent with rich colors of the Deities’ outfits and hand-made ornaments. Fruits like pomegranates and watermelons were artistically sculptured and presented on the altar to add to the vibrancy.
Lord Krishna chose to appear on earth in Mathura as an extraordinary child to King Vasudev and Mother Devaki in the confines of a prison cell, even though His form is unlimited and He is one without a beginning, anadi. He explains the reason for his appearance in His own words in the Bhagavad Gita (verse 8.4) – “In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium”.
Festivities at the temple began early at 4:30 AM in the morning to greet the Deities on this occasion. This was followed by chanting session, which is deep reflective meditation on Lord’s names. A discourse on Srimad Bhagavatam completed the morning program.
The evening celebrations saw thousands of Houstonians streaming in to offer their heartfelt devotion and to attend kirtan, a form of call and response chanting of the Holy names of the Lord.
As a main attraction to the festivities this year, Iskcon of Houston hosted internationally renowned musicians. Pandit Suman Ghosh, an esteemed disciple of Pandit Jasraj performed masterfully with classical devotional melodies to a captive audience. Accomplished tabla maestro Pandit Shantilal Shah accompanied him. His soulful rendition of Govinda Damodara Madhaveti set the mood for the evening and soul bhajans by well-known vocalist Saci Devi (also known as Shashika Mooruth in Bollywood) further saturated the evening’s divine atmosphere. Sacidevi captured everyone’s hearts with the texture of her voice and great selections of bhajans and Krishna kirtan.
Honorary Consul General Mr. P. Harish graced the occasion with his wife as the chief guests and enjoyed the devotional concert. He spoke eloquently in praise of the transcendence one could experience at the ISKCON of Houston and the positive experience the temple offers.
The temple grounds offered devotees the opportunity to perform abhishek, a sacred ceremonial bathing of the deity form of Gopal. Jhulan ceremony was also a chance for guests to meditate on the Lord’s form as a child, as they gently rocked baby Krishna in a cradle decorated with fragrant flowers.
Devotees from all over the world tuned in and watched the celebrations online. The temple provides live video and audio streaming to you, no matter where you are. Please visit the website: www.iskconhouston.org for more details and to see the live streams.
In his talk on the Bhagavad Gita, the temple president Shyam Sundar Das discussed the power of the Holy names and emphasized the importance of taking shelter in Krishna. The show stealer, as with every Janmashtami was the midnight kirtan and arati. The congregational chanting build up in the evening towards the one moment at midnight when the gathering of hundreds greet their beloved Lordships with ardent devotion as Dwarakanath Das shook the walls with “Nand Gher Anand Bhayo”.
Krishna Janmashtami Mahotsav ki Jai!
Srimati Radharani’s Appearance Day festival is scheduled for September 2, 2014. The program will start at 7 PM. ISKCON of Houston is located at 1320 West 34th St, Houston. Connect and follow Iskcon of Houston via social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr. Check their YouTube page to watch a few videos, which will be posted soon.
ISKCON of Houston invites you to join them every Sunday at 5:30 PM for the Sunday Feast program.