Chinmaya Mission, Shining Light on Diwali’s Significance the Year Through

Devotees performing Lakshmi puja Photos:Jay Mistry

Devotees performing Lakshmi puja Photos: Jay Mistry

By Radhika Nair

HOUSTON: The grand autumnal festival of Diwali, arguably the biggest celebration among Indians the world over, was celebrated in Chinmaya Mission Houston with vibrance and devotion on Sunday, November 4, 2018.

 Against the exquisitely decorated backdrop of Lord Rama and Sita Devi, and the row of ashtalakshmi murtis, Sri Ganesh Satyanarayana, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya priest, lead the puja with each family seated in the hall following the rituals step by step with their own idols. This was both personal and especially empowering for the children who immediately got involved, and participated with enthusiasm throughout the puja.

 “Bring out the divinity in you”, was the message Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty had for those present. Just like gardens flourish by constant weeding, he said let us allow ourselves to grow, by persistently removing the negativity within us. Wishes from the acharyas on this occasion were to light the diyas within our hearts, be alert to destroy the Ravana within us, and keep the light of knowledge continuously shining within.

Acharya Gaurang Uncle doing aarti

Acharya Gaurang Uncle doing aarti

In the five days of the rituals of Diwali is a beautifully packaged message worth reflecting upon every day. On the first day the homes are cleaned and new things are bought. On the second, houses are decorated with diyas and rangoli. The third day, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. This is followed by the celebration of the New Year.

On the fifth day siblings pray for each other’s well-being and visit upon each other.  In the microcosmic realm of an individual, our journey to an elevated existence begins with first purging our minds of the clutter. Then we bring in things of value that will equip us to get better at our endeavors. With renewed exuberance and optimism we pray for the light to continuously kindle this spirit. Without the wealth of knowledge and a balanced state of mind, all the worldly joys are evasive to us; hence we seek the grace of MahaLakshmi, the supreme goddess of wealth, for an abundance of knowledge and all worldly comforts to make our progress possible. And lastly, while we work zealously towards our personal goals, the last two days of Diwali remind us to expand our circle of influence, and spread the joy of love and look out for as many lives as we can.

Priest Ganeshji leading the puja

Priest Ganeshji leading the puja

As the glance traverses down the neatly seated aisles of devotees in the hall, the familiar eye would spot some young parents; themselves balavihar children not too long back, passing on the tradition to their little ones. The new brahmacharini Shweta Chaitanya herself was a balavihar student at this center. As philosopher Rumi said, the lamps are different but the light is the same. Under the guidance of acharyas Gaurang and Darshana Nanavaty a dynamic group of volunteers strive to keep the rich philosophy and knowledge of the hindu scriptures relevant and applicable and of interest to all generations and all kinds of seekers.

For more information on Chinmaya Mission Houston and its activities visit or reach Jay Deshmukh 832-541-0059 or or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233 or better still, stop by Chinmaya Prabha, 10353, Synott Road, Sugar Land, TX-77498.