A Bright Dipavali at at Chinmaya Mission Houston

By Satchitananda

Dipavali, the most iconic among Hindu festivals, also called as Diwali was celebrated with great pomp and festivity at Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH) on October 23rd, 2022. Also called Diwali, Dipavali literally translates to mean “rows of lamps.” The day marks Sri Rama’s return to Ayodhya after his victory in Lanka. It also signifies the day Goddess Lakshmi emerged during Saagar Manthan (churning of the Milky Ocean), and the triumph of Sri Krishna over Narakasura. Diwali represents the victory of light over darkness, victory of good over evil. Typically marked by bursting of crackers and exchanging of gifts/sweets, Diwali is also a time to rekindle the inner spiritual connection.

CMH was the home of great celebrations marking the first Dipavali after two years of the Covid pandemic that had restricted such public gatherings. The celebrations had to be done in two batches to accommodate all the eager Mission members. The volunteers at CMH once again rose to the occasion, thoroughly organizing the event to the last detail. For weeks, the excitement of the upcoming event had been building up.

Everyone was attired in the best and brightest clothes. The families seated in rows performed Lakshmi Puja. Sri Ganeshji, head priest of Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya, officiated the pujas. Lakshmi Ashttothara Shatanamavali (108 names of Sri Lakshmi) followed by Vishnu Sahasaranama (1008 names of Sri Vishnu) were chanted by all seeking the health, wealth, and welfare of everyone.

Earlier, Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty initiated the event with a soul-stirring Dipavali message. He reminded all that Dipavali comes every year, marked by the celebrations and festivities. Yet, unless we work on our inner tamas, illuminate it with the light of Jnana (wisdom), and practically apply it in our lives, the actual spiritual import of Dipavali will not be felt. His crisp message implored everyone present to make use of such festive events to embark on the spiritual journey.

CMH is also home to important traditions like Guru Dakshina to show gratitude to the Chinmaya Guru Parampara. Following the pujas, families lined up to offer their Guru Dakshina. Acaryas Gaurang Nanavaty and Darshana Nanavaty have been guiding the Houston Hindu community for over four decades. Their exemplary seva is directly from the wondrous example set by Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, a spiritual revolution that swept across the world a few decades ago. After collecting personal blessings from Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty, they were treated with sweets for Prasad.

Pujya Gurudev brought the highest wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads to the common man’s grasp thorough his deep insights simplified to appeal to the ordinary man’s intellect. This legacy has been maintained to this day by the Chinmaya Missions across the world, and CMH led by Acaryas Gaurang and Darshana Nanavaty have been leading the efforts in Houston. The call to embark on this inner spiritual journey from this Dipavali is loud and clear.

Tradition steeped in wisdom, diffused with fun is the norm at Chinmaya Mission Houston, located at Chinmaya Prabha, 10353, Synott Road, Sugar Land, TX-77498. For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities please 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. — Photo by Rajesh Thatte