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A Blissful Sivaratri at Saumyakasi Sivalaya

 

Chinmaya-in-4

Photos: Rajesh Thatte

By Satchitananda

HOUSTON: Siva means auspiciousness. On February 24th 2017, as Houston celebrated Mahasivaratri, a day that is most auspicious to Siva, thousands of devotees of the Houston Indian American community had one venue on their minds and calendar – Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya. In that iconic linga-shaped temple located within the premises of Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH), a perfect trifecta of festivities, devotion, and spirituality uplifted every devotee.

Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty performing the Ksirabhiseka to the Utsava Linga. All the devotees had an opportunity to offer abhisekam to the Utsava Linga.

Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty performing the Ksirabhiseka to the Utsava Linga. All the devotees had an opportunity to offer abhisekam to the Utsava Linga.

The special day and sacred night was marked by incessant Vaidika chants led by the temple priest Sri Ganesh Sathyanarayanaji as an almost unending stream of devotees filed through the temple. As the evening progressed, the crowds grew stronger in numbers.

The festivities began around 9 am when the Utsava Murti was worshiped with Ksirabhiseka. The Mahanyasa Purvaka Rudrabhiseka, performed to the Vaidika chants of Sri Rudram, highlighted the glories of Lord Siva. True to the declaration that Sri Rudram bestows happiness on both chanter and listener, everyone was moved to a state of bliss in that divine atmosphere.

The priest, Sri Ganesh, Sri Radhuram and  Sri Harish performed the abhisekam in complete harmony with his chanting of the Rudram. 

The priest, Sri Ganesh, Sri Radhuram and  Sri Harish performed the abhisekam in complete harmony with his chanting of the Rudram.

Even the basement of the temple got transformed into a mini Kailas, thanks to the wonderful artistic seva of CMH volunteers. Devotees of all ages – infants to the aged – waited sincerely in a long winding line to perform their personal Ksirabhiseka to the Lord’s idol placed there. This intimate experience made bhakti flow from the hearts of all, like the Ganges that flowed from the mini Kailas.

Invoking more auspiciousness, the evening’s Laghunyasa purvaka Ekadasa Rudrabhiseka made all hearts reverberate to the continuous chants of Vaidika hymns. The Sivalinga-shaped temple glowed with beauty, both from the bright illumination as well as mesmerizing aura. Devotees were able to watch the Rudrabhiseka on a couple of giant screens and listen to the chants of Sri Rudram as they made their way inside the temple.

Maha Mrtyunjaya Homam offered by a multitude of devotees for the health and spiritual prosperity of the world at large.

Maha Mrtyunjaya Homam offered by a multitude of devotees for the health and spiritual prosperity of the world at large.

The final hour before midnight saw a silent meditation elevating the bhaktas present to another realm. The silence experienced was so surreal that it can only be experienced by participation, not described.

Through all the blessings of that night, one could feel the silent presence of Pujya Gurudeva, Swami Chinmayananda and witness some key teachings from his commentaries come alive.

With the leadership, love, vision, and caring of Acaryas Sri Gaurang Uncle and Smt. Darshana Aunty and their relentless service to the Hindu community for decades, the Bhakti of the devotees was perhaps outmatched only by selfless service – the nishkama seva bhava of the CMH volunteers.

CMH once again lived up to the teachings of Pujya Gurudeva by blending all the elements of essential Sanatana Dharma – Bhakti, Karma, Jnana and Dhyana Yogas.

The celebrations continued on Sunday 26th with two sessions of hundreds of families performing the Mahamrtyunjaya Homa. Families participated in chanting the Maha-mrtyunjaya mantra along with their children. Chanting of the “Om Tryambakam …” mantra confers not only longevity but also cleanses our vasanas and burns our sins.

With that spiritually significant Homa, the space in Chinmaya Smrti was made fragrant with collective prayers for spiritual purity.

As the festivities of a most memorable CMH annual worship comes to a close, there is one thing that those who did not participate can do besides waiting. Make a visit to Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and also get to know more about CMH activities and how they are continuing the vision of Swami Chinmayananda by demystifying Sanatana Dharma and making it more practical in our daily lives.

For more information on Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities visit www.chinmayahouston.org, www.saumyakasi.org or call temple 281 568 1690 or Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233

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