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Chinmaya Dipavali Shines With Sacred Festivities

Acarya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty performing the puja. Sri Ganeshji, the head-priest of Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya led the puja. Photo: Rajesh Thatte

Acarya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty performing the puja. Sri Ganeshji, the head-priest of Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya led the puja. Photo: Rajesh Thatte

By Satchitananda

HOUSTON:  Hinduism is marked with numerous festivals, occasions and events throughout the year. Yet none come close to Dipavali, also called Diwali, in its colorful splendor, rich meaning, and cheerful spirit of celebration. Etymologically, Dipavali stands for a “row of lamps.”It marks the return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya,  signals the  liberation from the misery of the demon Narakasura by Sri Krishna, and also celebrates  the appearance of Sri Lakshmi during the Sagar Manthan, the churning of the Milky Ocean. In every Puranic context, it stands for the victory of light over darkness, of goodness over evil. To many, it also marks the beginning of their New Year. Besides the social cheer of gatherings and joyous celebration, Dipavali also is an auspicious time for self reflection and contemplation.

Needless to say, this is the most eagerly awaited annual celebration at Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH), and this year the festivities on October 22 were beautifully conducted after enthusiastic, care-filled planning and remarkable teamwork of an army of CMH volunteers.

The festive spirit was everywhere as one could see bright colors, flowers and sparkling lights all around. The pratima of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda was beautifully adorned with rangolis of flowers. The deities of Saumyakasi Sivalaya were resplendent too in their eye-catching colors.

Rows of families, dressed in their Dipavali best, sat cheerfully with diyas, flowers, and a picture of Sri Lakshmi to offer their prayers. As per CMH tradition, the puja conducted in two sessions involved around 500 families.

Acarya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty commenced the celebrations with a message that   resonated profoundly with the audience. He noted that typically Dipavali brings everyone’s attention to health and wealth as the Lakshmi puja serves as a constant reminder. But he also reminded about the importance of rising above our weakness – Pramada (Procrastination) and cultivate the wealth of character and unconditional love toward all. To achieve that, the acharya reiterated on the importance of being alert.

As  Sri Ganeshji, the head-priest of Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya, led the puja, the rains that began affirmed the auspicious environment in Chinmaya Smriti. Led by him, all the families performed the Lakshmi Ashtottara ShataNamavali (108 names of Sri Lakshmi) puja for the material and spiritual upliftment of everyone. This was followed by the chanting of Vishnu Sahasranama (1008 names of Sri Vishnu) for universal well-being.

Even as the families performed the puja, Acharya Gaurang Uncle and Darshana Aunty performed puja to a magnificiently adorned Sri Mahavishnu and Sri Lakshmi on the stage.  As the festivities concluded, it was a memorable visual treat to see rows of families performing aartis with their lamps.

CMH offers a rare connection to the ancient traditions of India and Guru Parampara. After the puja, families lined up in devotion and reverence to offer Guru Dakshina to the acaryas of CMH grateful for the Acaryas who provide a constant reminder of Swami Chinmayananda’s deepest teachings.

As the families filed past Chinmaya Smriti and received their prasad, what was evident was bright hope for the upcoming year, strengthened by a determination for good efforts and knowledge. Hari Om!

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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