Chinmaya Prabha Shines with Dipavali Prayers


The priest of Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya, Shri Ganeshji, Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty and Acharya Darshana Nanavaty perfoming Laksmi puja. Photo: Nilesh Shah

By Padmashree Rao

HOUSTON: Lamps, Prayers, Dipavali wishes. Chinmaya Prabha Houston shone bright on November 3, when over 800 families gathered to celebrate the always-awaited grand Hindu festival of lights.

Every year, as the expanding Chinmaya family in Houston convenes in the festive atmosphere of Dipavali, the excited smiles and wishes, the vibrant colors, and the beautifully decorated lamps take on a pious hue. The social and cultural charm of the popular Dipavali festival gets enhanced by the Chinmaya way of celebration – with the reflective and grateful spirit of puja.

The tradition of the Dipavali puja at Chinmaya Prabha has twin significance. Not only are the protective grace of Lord Maha Vishnu and the showering grace of Goddess Mahalakshmi invoked in an ardent puja, but the guiding grace of the Guru is revered and celebrated.

So, that bright morning,  when young and old dressed in sparkling smiles and cheerful Indian clothes walked into Chinmaya Prabha carrying flowers, lamps and their own carefully decorated puja plates, the real essence of Dipavali readily filled the air.

Rows of devotees sat eagerly in the Smriti Hall, and the families overflowed into the adjacent Saraswati Nilayam to participate in the puja. On an elegantly set stage, the deities Lord Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi seemed powerfully alive, adorned with beautiful flower garlands. Matching their presence, the life-sized pratima of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda in the foyer of Chinmaya Prabha looked resplendent as the many lamps lit at his feet signaled the right beginning to the event. Across the courtyard, the divine idols of the glorious Saumyakasi Sivalaya radiated the enlightening touch of Dipavali.

In his apt Dipavali message to the Chinmaya Houston family, Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty described Dipavali as a time for internal evaluation. Just as material profit accrues when assets are increased and liabilities are dropped, our spiritual life will have greater gains when we fill our lives with love, forgiveness, and other positive emotions, and empty our negativities. Positive, enriching qualities are the true wealth that Goddess Lakshmi bestows along with material prosperity to sincere aspirants. Thus, the Acharya emphasized that every one of the 108 names of Goddess Lakshmi in the ashtottara puja was truly valuable. Since Lakshmi stays where Lord Mahavishnu is invoked, the chanting of Vishnusahasranama (the 1000 names of the Lord Vishnu) during the auspicious time of Dipavali is very significant. Further, Acharya Gaurangbhai highlighted how it is the grace of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda that illuminates every Dipavali at Chinmaya Prabha.

After the Acharya’s address laid the contemplative foundation, the priest of Saumyakasi Sivalaya, Shri Ganeshji, conducted the Lakshmi Ashtottara puja as Acharya Gaurangbhai and Acharya Darshanaben Nanavaty officiated for the gathering. The Smriti Hall reverberated when all devotees chanted the Vishnu Sahasranama with great devotion.

When all the families arose after the puja to raise their arati plates in worship, the rows of waving lights made Dipavali 2013 arrive at Chinmaya Prabha. Then, in befitting conclusion, the families offered their individual pranams to Acharyas Gaurangbhai and Darshanben Nanavaty who have guided Chinmaya Mission Houston since 1987. To keep the spiritual flame burning bright in Chinmaya Prabha, the families also offered their Gurudakshina, giving thanks for the blessings of the Chinmaya Guru Parampara.

The spiritual sparkle of Dipavali at Chinmaya Prabha brightened the way for a prosperous new year ahead.

For further information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, visit or contact Bharati Sutaria at 281-933-0233.