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January 21, 2000
Makar Sankrant in Houston draws 2,000 people
At least 2,000 children, youth and adults participated on January 16 in reportedly the largest Indian kite flying festival in America. It was organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America-Houston chapter and the Gujarat Samaj of Houston
Houston, which has one of the most active of VHP chapters, has been holding successful Makar Sankrant celebrations for several years. The Janamashthami celebrations organized by the VHP in Houston draw thousands of people too.
In recent years, the VHP has successfully reached out to area schools to send non-Indian students participate in the festivities.
The Makar Sankrant events were held at the George Bush Park in western Harris county. Kites were available for a small donation and were so popular that they were sold out and replenishments brought in twice.
In honor of Swami Vivekananda's birthday, the VHP chapter held its annual non-perishable food drive to benefit the Houston Food Bank as part of the day's events.
Sharad Patel, the overall coordinator, emphasized the need for including even more religious and cultural organizations.
"In the future, if we encourage all organizations to come together, it will be an even better celebration. The help from the volunteer workers of the organizations and their presidents helped make this celebration a success," he said.
Prakash Nayak, one of the organizers for this year's celebration, stated "I am pleased to see many more people this year. This shows there is strong support and appreciation for VHP work."
Brijbushan Singh Bedi, the RSS sanghchalak from Punjab, said, "To see and feel Bharat away from Bharat was touching and exhilarating."
The program also included a demonstration by the Sugar Land and Keshav Smruti RSS shakhas including several human pyramids and exercise routines. The kite decoration contest was won by Krishna Prakash Kapadia, a fourth grader from the Clearlake area.
Beth Kulkarni was recently elected as president of the VHP of America's Houston branch.
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