Thousands of people gathered at ISKCON of Houston this past Sunday and Monday in celebration of two Hindu festivals.
They came together over the two days to worship, sing, eat and enjoy each other’s company.
For more than 40 years, Mathuranath, his spiritual name, has been a devotee of the Hindu religion. He traveled from Dallas to take part in both festivals.
“We observe festivals to remind people to remember Krishna and it also gives us time to associate with each other,” Mathuranath said.
Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, was celebrated on Sunday evening at the Hindu temple at 1320 W. 34th St.
Festival goers watch the candle light arati, which is when light is offered to their deity.
“There are many significances about this festival for us,” attendee Damodara Sarana Das said. “One thing is that it commemorates Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom. And he comes in the evening time, so he’s welcomed with an array of light.”
Another attendee explained that the festival serves as a reminder that good within oneself should reign over evil.
On Monday evening, the people at the temple celebrated Govardhan Puja, or the Festival of Food. It is in remembrance of Lord Krishna’s protection of Govardhan hill, which is a sacred Hindu site.
“Krishna was able to lift Govardhan hill with just the little finger of his left hand, and it acted like an umbrella and all the residents of Virndavan got under the hill,” festival attendee Jayabaladeva said.
During the festival, devotees took a replica of Govardhan hill made of various foods and worshipped Kirshna as the lifter of Govardhan hill by singing and praying.
At the end of the Festival of Food, the hill of prasadam, sanctified food, is distributed to the public.
“The festivals are fun,” Damodara Sarana Das said. “I’m a drum player. I’m a singer. I get involved with all the youth members. We sing together, dance together, serve food together, eat food together. It’s a whole sense of community and it brings us together under one umbrella.”