Chinmaya Mission Houston Celebrates its Balavihar Class of 2023

Chinmaya Mission Houston Balavihar Class of 2023. Photo by Bharath Rao.

By Ujwala Bhat

HOUSTON: On May 20, Chinmaya Mission Houston was a proud witness to a beautiful graduation ceremony for the outgoing Class of 2023. At the beginning of the ceremony, the students took part in the pooja at Saumyakasi Sivalaya led by the priest Sri Ganeshji. After invoking the blessings of the almighty in the temple and later prostrating to the pratima of Shri Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda in the foyer of Chinmaya Prabha, they walked with folded hands into Chinmaya Smriti hall led by their beloved teachers of the 12th grade. The melodic wishes of the bhajana students added to the joy on this memorable occasion.

In her opening remarks, the Emcee, Smt.Radhika Koppanur, a Balavihar teacher and a proud mom of a graduating senior, was visibly emotional while she shared the experience of 14 years of most of the graduating seniors attending Bala Vihar in Chinmaya Mission Houston, learning the essence of the Hindu scriptures. She emphasized how the Balavihar environment provides children from Pre-K to 12th grade a safe space to learn values. Imparting a sense of pride about their ancient Hindu culture, Balavihar gives parents an assurance that their children will not feel culturally displaced.

Smt.Sneha Sandhane is our newest Vedanta Teacher, then delivered the convocation address with her discourse on the ancient Vedic graduation milestone called ‘Samavartana’ as described in the Taittriya Upanishad where the Acarya- teacher instructs the graduating students on a core set of principles to follow in life. Instructing the students to pursue Dharma, Artha, and Kama to the best of their understanding and capabilities along with self-care. Smt. Snehaji explained the main principles as set forth in the Upanishad, some of which are:

“Never err from Truth, never err from Dharma; never neglect your well-being and your prosperity; never neglect Svadhyaya (Self-study) and Pravachan (listening to discourses).”

Snehaji also spoke about the true spirit of charity and of giving with faith, as explained in Taittriya Upanishad.
At the end of her address, blessings were sought from Pujya Acharya Darshana Aunty who sent the message, “With Guru Ajnya (command), bloom like a lotus” along with Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty’s congratulatory message. The students then offered their Gurudakshina to Snehaji and took her blessings.

The Special Guest of honor for this occasion, Mr. Vivek Shah, a successful entrepreneur and Houston native, addressed the graduates and shared his experience on how spirituality shaped and enriched his life. He emphasized, with many practical and light-hearted examples, the importance of following Dharma as he outlined noteworthy tips that students must inculcate to become successful.

As each of the graduates went on stage to receive the memento inscribed with their names and Pujya Gurudeva’s quote, “Always learn to put your mind where your hands are working,” a snippet of their achievements, their chosen field of study, and their favorite memory from all the years in Bala Vihar was read out loud.

The graduating students presented an insightful video which summarized their learning from PreK to Grade 12, from the curriculum painstakingly set and revised over three decades by Acarya Darshana aunty.

As the graduates of the Class of 2023 gleefully gathered on the stage in their traditional Indian attire, the assembled audience were enthralled by the meticulous planning and execution of this ceremony. A sense of gratitude dawned in the hearts of all for this opportunity provided at Chinmaya Mission Houston to fill the void that second and third generation Indians experience from their cultural roots. The happy celebration concluded with the Chinmaya Graduation song “Abhinandanam,” the Chinmaya Mission Pledge, and the Universal peace prayer, “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah.”

For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities please visit or call temple 281 568 1690 or Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233