CALABASAS, Calif. — The Malibu Hindu Temple in Southern California held a three-day Shrimad Bhagwat Katha over the July 15 weekend, attended by many devotees.

One of the most sacred books of Hinduism, the Shrimad Bhagwat is one of the greatest of all of the puranas, or old literature. Written by Vyasadeva, it has 18,000 verses which are presented in 12 cantos that focus primarily on Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The Shrimad Bhagwat Katha Saptaha is a well-known and practiced Hindu religious ritual in which reading and listening to the Shrimad Bhagwat is a week-long religious commitment, with the understanding that even an entire lifetime may not be enough to understand it completely. The Katha involves reading, preaching, interpretation, and singing of the verses of the Shrimad Bhagwat Katha Puran by a learned scholar.

The Malibu Hindu Temple Katha was held over three evenings daily from 5-8 p.m., orated in Hindi by Shastriji Shree Bharatbhai Rajgor.

The event served as a fundraiser for adding a new Hanuman Temple and Durga Matha Pratistapanam to the temple complex.

Shastriji is resident priest at the Norwalk, Calif., temple, fluent in Gujarati and Hindi, who says he has performed the katha over 140 times in the U.S., and well as in India and the UK. He feels Katha is meant to teach harmonious living through the tales of the deities. All the desires and cravings we have as humans can be given a direction towards God through Katha, he says.

Shastriji’s rendition included a series of Krishna lilas (anecdotes from Krishna’s life) and spiritual reflections punctuated by bhajans to musical accompaniment.

The bhajans included the popular Hare Krishna, Govardhana Giridhara Govinda, Srinivasa Govinda, Shri Radhe Govind, Madhav Madhav, Govind Radhe Madhava, Krishna hai, Krishnam Krishnam Madhavam. Musical support was provided by Sanjeevbhai Munshi (keyboard and singer), Vilasbhai Jadhav (tabla), and Pt. Radhaprasad (flute).

The Malibu Hindu temple, one of the largest authentic Hindu temples in the western hemisphere, was built for the main deity of Lord Venkateshwara (form of Vishnu) but has several shrines of other deities. The temple was built according to the Silpa Shastra in Chola style of temple architecture.

The temple receives many visitors, especially on the weekends, both Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Visitors on the weekend of the Katha included an Armenian orthodox Catholic father and son duo who had driven out all the way from Glendale, who told India-West that they had been coming here for over a decade. Asked what brought them here, they said that they were fans of Indian culture, especially the music, and find the temple very peaceful. And they love the temple tea.

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