Special Bala Vihar Graduation Day at Chinmaya Mission Houston

By Shalini Somaraj

HOUSTON: May 15th marked a day of great joy and renewal at the beautiful Chinmaya Prabha in Houston.  Chinmaya Mission families, Acharyas, BalaVihar teachers and volunteers assembled in Smrti Hall for the Special BalaVihar Graduation Ceremony after a period of two years.

The Chinmaya Mission BalaVihar Graduation Day is a culmination of the spiritual education that children receive over a period of over 14 years in BalaVihar Houston. May 15th was a day to not only celebrate their many achievements but also pay a glowing salute to resilience and courage they have demonstrated in surmounting obstacles during these unprecedented times caused by the Pandemic.

For the students and their families, the day began with a brief photo session in Chinmaya Smrti Foyer. The Graduating class then proceeded to the temple where they performed a puja to seek divine blessings. In keeping with the discipline and timeliness, which are among principal tenets of BalaVihar, the students led by Pujya Acharya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty, entered the Smrti Hall at 9:35 am. They were welcomed by the lilting notes of Graduation music. Chinmaya Choir and Orchestra, under the guidance of Smt. Jamuna Murali continued to enthrall the gathering with the melodious bhajans of “Gaiye Ganapati”, “GuruDev tumhari charanon mein”, “Jayati Jai Maa Sarasvati” and “Bhumi Mangalam”.

At 10 am, Sandhya Harpavat, herself an alumnus of BalaVihar and a BalaVihar Parent, presided as Emcee of the Graduation ceremony. She welcomed all in the audience who graced this special occasion. She also felicitated the students for going above and beyond in these past few years, for thinking outside the box, searching for opportunities during lockdown and showing great fortitude in striving for their goals. They have been guided and inspired by Swami Chinmayananda’s teachings, Pujya Auntie’s carefully thought-out curriculum and Pujya Uncle’s divine pravachan. She noted that BalaVihar Graduation Ceremony follows a set path deeply rooted in “Guru/Shishya Parampara”.

In Guru shishya Parampara, as a student completes education and gets ready to embark on the next journey, he/she is given a great parting gift. This gift carries a loving blessing with a firm set of reminders from the teachings of Taittiriya Upanishad. This instruction serves as a guiding light in every circumstance. Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty lit the ceremonial lamp of knowledge and delivered the inspiring Graduation address from the ancient Taittiriya Upanishad. The Smrti Hall resounded with the voices of the Class of 2022 as they promised to “Satyam Vada” – speak the truth and “Dharmam Chara” – Abide by duty. The students are also ordained to share their good fortune and blessing with others and live their lives with utmost reverence to the Guru.

Following the spiritual teachings from Taittiriya Upanishad, the Emcee welcomed the esteemed Chief Guest Sri Durga Agarwal to the Podium. Dr Agarwal is the Founder and CEO of Houston based company Piping Technology and Products and has many other illustrious achievements. He  is also the founding president of India House, and  is currently secretary of UH System Board of Regents.

Sri Durga ji congratulated the students and said he was personally proud to have two of his grandchildren in the graduating class. He also commended the teachers, volunteers, and Chinmaya Mission community for the nurturing support they provided to the students. He recounted days from his own childhood when he overcame many hardships in his small town despite which, in addition to learning from his father about family business, he also imbibed good values of sharing and kindness by performing many acts of community service. He encouraged the students to seek what they are passionate about. Hard work, determination and persistence is key to achieving goals. Durga ji also noted that students should put their families first and stay connected with the community.

The Graduation commencement began at 11 am. Each student received a trophy that had a quote from Pujya Gurudeva- “Always learn to put your mind where your hands are working”. Lighting of the ceremonial lamp by each student reaffirms their commitment to share spiritual knowledge and live by the spiritual values. A slide show was also displayed to the audience in which each student shared their best moments in Chinmaya Mission and their favorite quotes of Pujya Gurudeva. Pujya Uncle awarded trophies to the new graduates.

In our ancient Vedic tradition, it is a special honor and privilege for students to offer “Guru Dakshina” to a teacher on completion of studies. Four students from among the Graduates expressed the collective gratitude of the Class of 2022 and thanked everyone who helped shape their character and values. The students also presented a booklet which highlights impactful teachings from the book “Self-Unfoldment”. They also thanked their parents for their support and encouragement.

Pujya Darshana Aunty had an inspiring message for the new Graduates.

“Guru Aagya mein nisa dina rahiye”

Achieve your goal by abiding in the command of the Guru!


Snehaji, the 12th Grade teacher, gave a loving message to the graduates from a Kathopanishad mantra.

Awake arise!

See the brilliant sunrise,

The rays of dreams

And dawn of knowledge

Have lit up the path

So much with your courage

Stop not until you reach your goal!


Graduates reiterated their resolve to live by the tenets of service and respect by reciting the Chinmaya Mission Pledge.  The ceremony drew to a close with the Graduation song by Smt. Jamuna Murali.

Abhinandanam Abhinandanam Dikshanta kale Abhinandanam!

Hearty congratulations to the Graduates from Class of 2022!

For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities 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