Vibrant Dipavali Puja Celebrations at Chinmaya Mission Houston

By Ujwala Bhat

Photos by Ashutosh Kak

On this Sacred day of Deepavali (Diwali) at dusk when darkness intensifies, all homes are illumined by lights, tiny mud pots with oil wicks. I appeal that this day is a day of prayer and expression of love. Get out of your homes in the evening, and embrace every other individual in society not because they are Hindus but, because they too are small flames of the same light Divine. This Pure Divine light can impart a joyous sense of perfection in the ways of men & women. Diwali is a day dedicated to inner purity and noble character. – Swami Chinmayananda

On November 12, Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH) hosted a grand puja celebration of the Dipavali festival.

Dipavali, the festival of lights is the most jubilantly celebrated festival among Indians all over the world.

Deepavali, often known as Diwali, has significant stories associated with the festival.  When Bhagavan Krishna vanquished Narakasura and freed his imprisoned devotees, the gopis celebrated that victory with diyas lit in their homes. The great occasion of Lord Rama returning to Ayodhya with Mother Sita and Lakshmana after putting an end to Ravana’s evil deeds is also celebrated with rows of light, most joyously as Dipavali.

The victory of the Lord over negative forces indicates that this victory must be gained within us. Within us, we are always confronting the tension between the noble aspirations and ideals and the pull of greed and passions. This constant struggle between the assets and liabilities at our psychological level must, by His Grace, result in a victory over the negative forces, because our mind is turned toward something Higher. In his Dipavali address to the community, Pujya Gaurang Nanavaty, the Acarya of CMH, referred to this as “taking stock of our assets” as the year ends. He reminded the audience that the goal must be to increase spiritual and noble assets.

At Chinmaya Mission Houston, continuing the tradition of prayers, the annual Dipavali puja was celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm. The members of Chinmaya Mission gathered with all their families in the Smrti Hall and performed the Lakshmi Puja under the guidance of Shri Ganesh Satyanarayana, the priest of Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya. Against the exquisite backdrop of the idols of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Rama, and Mother Sita, priest Ganeshji led the puja with the collective chanting of Sri Lakshmi Ashtotthara Namavali and Visnu Sahasranama. Children and adults participated in the puja with great devotion. It was a sight to behold multiple generations pray together, soaking in the divine atmosphere.

Dipavali in Chinmaya Mission Houston is also a time for the important ceremony of Guru Daksina.  Hundreds of families lined up to offer their love and respects to Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty and Acarya Darshana Nanavaty for their guidance for over four decades. They conveyed their gratitude to the Chinmaya Guru Parampara and pledged to support the great seva that has made Chinmaya Prabha Houston a glorious center of Chinmaya Mission.

Several teams of volunteers, under the guidance of Acarya Gaurang Uncle and Acarya Darshana Aunty strive to keep the rich Indian traditions flourishing as they pass on the valuable knowledge of Hindu scriptures to the coming generations.

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