The Grand Finale of Joyous Gratitude
— Year-End Madhura Utsav at Houston Namadwaar
A wave of love and festivities take over the rustic pristine setting of Houston Namadwaar year after year during the last week of December, as it is bathed in the splendor of Madhura Utsav. The crisp, cold front is nipped by the warmth of enthusiastic devotees, as our Master, His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, sends His own disciples – Sri Ramanujamji or Sri Poornimaji – to ensure ten days of divine experience, devoid of any worldly pandemonium. This presence of divinity (satsang) gives one an esoteric, unforgettable experience reminiscent of the grand Brahmotsav in Madhurapuri Ashram.
As night falls after Thanksgiving, the grand preparations set into motion the juggernaut – Madhura Utsav. Hearts brimming with sweet memories scurry through a maze of logistics, come up with impeccable plans, fill up hodgepodge Google sheets, shoot emails, and make a gazillion calls; all for Madura Utsav! Those blissful days that will be impressed forever in the hearts as a celebration of divine descent, the grace that ensues and the love that blossoms. This celebration of love is in all essence the dharma spoken by the Lord Himself – Bhagavata Dharma. A dharma devoid of hypocrisy and without boundaries, one that brings everyone together.
As dawn breaks the Lordships Premika Varadan-Madhuri Sakhi adorned with brilliant attire and fragrant flower garlands enjoy the sweet chants of Tiruppavai, an insignia of the glorious month of Marghazhi (mid Dec-mid Jan).
The day fills up fast with Bhagavatam reading, abhishekam, procession of the Divine Couple on a variety of vehicles (vaahanas), ashtapadhis (hymns by Saint Jayadev), children’s quizzes, plays, competitions, Divyanama sankirtan and the finest of all is the heart warming eulogy of Bhagavatas and Bhagavan from Srimad Bhagavatam by Sri Swamiji’s disciple.
The Divine Couple bask in the glory of unflinching faith and devotion. The special events of the Utsav include Sri Krishna Jananam & Nandotasavam (celebrating Krishna’s birth), Govinda Pattabhishekham (crowning Lord Krishna with the title ‘Govinda’), Nikunjotsavam (when the Divine Couple enjoy a concert performance arranged specially for Them), Jaanavaasam (pre-wedding celebrations), Radha Kalyanam (grand wedding of the Divine Couple) and finally Anjaneya utsav (a culmination prayer).
Hundreds of devotees travel from all over United States and dozens of children enjoy the divine pastures untouched by danger, and despite the coldest of seasons and against all odds, Madhura Utsav stands lustrous and unscathed. This is the protection that our Master has assured all of us – a life devoid of fear. His unconditional love makes the same hands that have spent hours in service go up in prayer for their afflicted brethren. This is the love that has no wants, this is love unto itself, a path shown by our Master, himself an embodiment of highest love, and His celebration is verily Madhura Utsav – the grand finale of gratitude.
-Lekshmi Nair, Houston