The most iconic of Hindu festivals – Deepavali, also called Diwali, was celebrated at Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH) on October 27th, 2019 with great fervor. Deepavali, meaning ”row of lamps,” is usually celebrated by lighting many lamps and hence the sobriquet, “Festival of Lights.” In many places, the festivities span five days. It marks the day of return of Bhagwan Rama to Ayodhya, along with Sita and Lakshmana after the defeating Ravana. Deepavali also marks the victory of Bhagwan Krishna and Satyabama over Narkasura.
The significance compounds as it marks the day of emergence of Lakshmi during Saagar Manthan. In many communities, it marks the New Year on their calendar. In short, Deepavali signifies victory of light over darkness, of Knowledge over ignorance. The festivities are marked by social gatherings, exchange of sweets and gifts, bursting of firecrackers; it is also a time for contemplation and temple visits.
CMH brought out the festival’s grandeur through its army of volunteers. Gurudev’s pratima was decorated with flowers and colorful rangoli. In Chinmaya Smriti hall, at the center of a colorful stage were the murtis of Narayana with his consorts – Sridevi and Bhoodevi. Sri Ganesh Satyanarayana, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya’s priest conducted the puja in the august presence of Acharya Shri Gaurang Nanavaty. Acharya Darshana Nanavaty also graced the occasion.
Acharya Gaurangbhai cast deep insight on the subtler meaning behind Deepavali in his crisp address. He noted that in Dussera, where good gains victory over evil, the process begins by destroying darkness through the worship of Parvati. It is then followed by seeking spiritual wealth through Lakshmi puja culminating in Saraswati worship for getting knowledge. In Deepavali, the entire process is reversed. It commences on Vaakbaras (Saraswati), Danteras (Lakshmi), Kalichaudas (Parvati) and ends with Deepavali. With knowledge, one begins cultivating spiritual wealth and remains vigilant against vasanas; thus shines the real dawn of inner light.
After his address, rows of families, decked in the most brilliant clothes, followed Ganeshji’s directions in performing Ganesa Puja, followed by Lakshmi Astottarasatanama puja and recital of Vishnusahasaranama. The vaidika aarti was followed by a visually pleasing aarti that all the families did with their lamps. As is the norm in CMH, the celebration was done in two sessions.
Since CMH proudly holds on to the traditions of imparting and honoring knowledge, the families then lined up to offer Gurudakshina to their beloved Acharyas; each family, in return, was blessed with a gift. As the festivities came to a close, the families were treated to some tasty prasad. Deepavali and CMH, both, remind us of the importance of constantly working on one’s own darkness and letting the bright light of knowledge to shine within. The inner journey continues.
CMH, its Acharyas, volunteers and family members strive to live the teachings of their great master Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda. Gurudev’s entire life was one of a bright lamp shining incessantly to spread the Vedic wisdom in the simplest way to the masses.
Tradition steeped in wisdom, diffused with fun is the norm at Chinmaya Mission Houston, located at Chinmaya Prabha, 10353, Synott Road, Sugar Land, TX-77498.
For more information, visit www.chinmayahouston.org or call Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059.
Knowledge and traditions shine during Deepavali at Chinmaya Prabha Houston