Children Enchant with the Gita at Chinmaya Prabha

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The winners of 2015 Gita Chanting competition with Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty.
Photos: Satish Bali and Nilesh Shah

By Shalini Konde

HOUSTON: Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda once said – “Opportunities in life come to all of us almost all the time. They come in streams, in hosts and knock at our doors. We are either ‘out’ or sleeping ‘in’. Be awake. Be alert. Be prepared to make use of them.”  Truly, one of such glorious opportunities comes every year in the form of the Gita Chanting Competition at Chinmaya Prabha Houston.  And, as a mark of special reverence, the competition is held on a Saturday close to Pujya Gurudev’s birthday of May 8, 1916.

Significantly, the event held this year on May 2nd, was a beautiful opportunity for children to offer a very beautiful gift to Pujya Gurudev to commemorate the centenary year of his birth. Prepared, alert, and enthusiastic, over a hundred and twenty children from ages 4 – 18 captivated the audience with their skillful chanting of Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15 – Purushottama Yoga (The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit).

The competition started at 8:30 AM in the morning with Vedic Aarti followed by the Mission Pledge. Pujya Acarya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty, in his message encouraging and congratulating all participating children, said, “Just as listening to the national anthem increases patriotism, listening and the learning the Gita increases love for the Lord. You children who learn the Gita are indeed winners in life.”

As the competition commenced, it was evident that all children were really the winners. The judges who listened to child after child struggled to distinguish who was ahead in terms of memory, pronunciation, chanting style and overall effect. From the youngest participant to the oldest, the spirit of chanting was such that it must have truly enchanted Lord Krishna himself! When the competition concluded by noon and the results were announced, the overwhelming feeling was one of genuine victory for all. The special day drew to a conclusion with a sumptuous lunch for all the attendees.

In the award ceremony the next day, when Acarya Gaurangbhai, honored the winners, he shared a special email written by Rohith Narra, one of the winning children. The young teenager dedicated his success to his teachers saying that his victory came after nine years of participation.  During his chanting this year, he concentrated on giving his best and did not focus on the result – he learned how that attitude, in fact, contributed to his success.

Then, there was Vashi Banavalikar, a four-year-old who just missed participating in the formal competition because of his age cut-off. He was determined to learn the verses of Ch.15 and so he did – the toddler memorized fourteen verses, and he marched on the stage that Sunday morning – and enchanted everyone with his chanting of the verses until the Acarya had to request him to pause! Indeed, Gurudev’s rich legacy of teaching the Gita shone throughout the day’s award ceremony. Each year, the preparation for this day starts early – the Mission conducts Gita chanting classes for the children from February to prepare them for the annual event and teachers pour their hearts in this auspicious effort.

This year, the winners will head for Chicago in September to participate in the National competition which will be followed by the International Chanting competition being conducted at Chinmaya Vibhooti, Kolwan (Near Pune), India in December as part of Pujya Gurudev’s Birth Centenary celebrations.

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Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty listens to Vashi Banavalikar, a four-year-old, Pre-K student of Bala Vihar as he captivate audience.

Group A (4 to 6 year olds)
3rd Place: Sanvi Sudarshan
2nd Place: Saumya Kabnur
1st Place: Pranav Sriram
Group B: (7 to 9 years)
3rd Place: Siddharth Satish
2nd Place: Aditi Chaubal
1st Place: Shanaya Kabnur

 Group C (10 to 12 years):
3rd Place: Rachit Mukkamala & Ayush Manoj
2nd place: Meghana Prabhakaran
1st Place: Mihir Krishna Gundamaraju

Group D (13 to 15 years)
3rd Place: Bhavya Kethireddipalli
2nd place: Mythreyan Ganesh & Arushi Das
1st Place:  Rohit Narra

Group E (16 to 18 years)
2nd Place: Shravya Arra
1st Place: Yuthika Gundamaraju
Also, Chinmaya Prabha Houston will continue Pujya Gurudev’s birth centenary celebrations with many special events this year. To know the great Master whose breath carried the message of the Gita worldwide, Chinmaya Mission invites all seekers in Houston to attend the special screenings of a biopic, “On a Quest,” on May 30th and June 7th at 3:15pm at the AMC Dunvale. Portraying the life of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, the film will carry us on a journey that brought forth a visionary Master – a transformational search that turned a non-believing fiery Indian journalist into a revolutionary teacher of Vedanta worldwide. The biopic is about a spiritual renaissance where the rebellious young BalaKrishnan Menon matured into the majestic Swami Chinmayananda and carried the Truth of the scriptures to the maximum people, without any claim to personal glory. To watch “On a Quest” will be to watch the power of pure spirituality – do not miss the chance to partake this journey to the Highest! Buy your tickets on line at www.chinmayahouston.org/onaquest .Ticket availability is limited so we encourage you to purchase as soon as possible.

 For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, please visit www.chinmayahouston.org or contact Bharati Sutaria at 281-933-0233.

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