Chinmaya Mission Houston Celebrates Navaratri with Traditional Flair

Photos by Ashutosh Kak and Bharath Rao

By Rajesh Thatte

HOUSTON: Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH) families and their guests were treated with a vibrant yet spiritual Navaratri Garba on Saturday October 7, 2023, at Gujarati Samaj Houston. It is an annual tradition at CMH for families to come together and offer prayers and homage to Goddess Durga during Navaratri. The Navaratri festival is observed worldwide during the first nine days of the Hindu month Ashwin.

The program started promptly at 5:30PM after guests were checked-in swiftly and treated with appetizers on arrival. The singing team led by Ruchira Shah started the auspicious main event with the opening prayer and invocation. The melodious chanting of Sarva Mangala Mangalye, the hymn to the Aadi Shakti, the manifestation of creative energy of the universe, set the program in motion. The Garba followed the opening prayers and every attendee joined in. Garba, also known as Garaba, is a dance where devotees move in circles around the pratima of Goddess Durga, worshiping Her.

This year, the day of celebration also coincided with the birthday of Pujya Gaurang Nanavaty, Acarya of Chinmaya Mission Houston. Volunteers took this opportunity to present two performances on stage for Pujya Gaurang Uncle. While a group of ladies showcased a colorful, special Garba performance, a few Bala Vihar children, the stars of the event, presented Badhai Ho Badhai, a birthday song. Then came a high-energy dance performance based on the traditional Gujarati folk song Sanedo, with a creative and colorful touch to the lyrics composed artfully to portray the past, present, and future plans for CMH. While the performance got the audience grooving to its beats, the song reminded attendees of the objectives of Chinmaya Mission and motivated engagement and participation in the CMH. The program continued with the Arati of Goddess Durga.

Following that, the event unfolded into what everyone was waiting for, Raas and Dandia, the pinnacle of Navaratri celebration. Toddlers and children, with their colorful costumes, were an adorable part of the assembly. As the venue resonated with music, no one was able to remain on the sidelines and everyone joined the Raas. Age and dancing proficiency were no bar. The singing team of CMH -Ruchira Shah, Priya Mohan, Shweta Shroff, Mithil Rana, Vivek Chitale, and Dr. Rucha Sheth kept devotees energized song after song with their cheerful voices. This year, Naina Sheth, a budding young talent, joined the singing team onstage. Prathamesh Mehta enthusiastically conducted the program, and Srinivas Raju aptly managed the audio and stage that evening. While the singing and dancing was going on, the attendees were served freshly cooked, delicious vegetarian food. The program concluded at 9:30 PM with closing prayers.

The Navaratri event organized and hosted by CMH is a fun-filled, social celebration bringing families together. This year, the CMH Navaratri event saw a record number of more than a thousand attendees, primarily driven by increased enrollment in Chinmaya Mission Houston’s Bala Vihar program. Bharati Akhave and her team did a tremendous job of decorations and coordination of program logistics.

Pujya Gaurang Uncle expressed his gratitude to every sevak of CMH who contributed a selfless helping hand towards the success of the event. The volunteers of CMH are not resting though because CMH is gearing up for the Kumbhabhisekam of Saumyakasi Sivalaya and a special Jyotirlinga Yatra coming up November 24-26.

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