Shree Rama Navami 2013 Celebrations at Chinmaya Mission Chicago – Yamunotri
Chicago IL: Shree Rama Navami Mahotsavam was celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm on Saturday 20th April 2013 at Chinmaya Mission Chicago – Yamunotri, 30877 N. Fairfield Rd., Grayslake , IL . The event was presided over by Swami Sharananandaji (resident Acharya) and Shree Sita Rama Kalyana Mahotsava puja was performed by priest Sundaresham Gurukkalji, supported by dedicated Mission volunteers. Bala Vihar children performed a beautiful Dance Drama “Navadha Bhakti” depicting the nine forms of Bhakti to the Lord. Over 400 people attended this grand event.
The program started at 8.30 am with the grand celestial wedding ceremony of Lord Rama and Sita Devi, performed with chanting of mantras and accompanied by traditional wedding songs sung by Bala Vihar children and Mission volunteers. Several devotees participated in the puja followed by Ashttothara Namavali recitation and a grand procession of Lord Rama and Sita Devi around the shrine as Mission volunteers sang the auspicious song “Sita Kalyana Vaibhogame.” The puja concluded with a mangalam song performed by Bala Vihar children and Shree Rama Aarti.
Swami Sharadanandaji then delivered a short yet meaningful sermon. Swamiji emphasized the importance of the beautiful chapter Sunderkand of the Rama Charita Manas by explaining the importance of the great devotee Hanumanji. Lord Rama is the representation of the quality of beauty and Hanumanji’s love and devotion to the Lord is another representation of beauty, making the Sunderkand a beautiful chapter in the Ramayana. The qualities of love and devotion for the Lord are brought out in this chapter which makes us realize that beauty is not related to the physical form alone. Although Ravana was physically powerful and beautiful, Mother Sita rejected him saying that the arrogant ego of Ravana was like an insignificant firefly compared to the brilliant luminosity of Lord Rama, the representation of true beauty. When Lord Hanumanji saw Mother Sita, he felt that his life was fulfilled signifying that a true devotee must not only realize the Lord , but also attain the bliss or “Brahmanandam” that is obtained by the divine union of the individual jiva (Sita Devi) with the Supreme Self (Lord Rama) through devotion. To rediscover our Oneness is the source of all happiness and fulfillment and purpose of our human birth.
Every human being is constantly seeking a share of peace and happiness, and since one does not know the real source of these, one seeks them in the midst of sense objects. But when, in devotion, one comes to turn one’s entire attention towards the higher and the nobler, one experiences the Immortal, the Infinite—as intimately as one experienced the world and its changes before.
Chinmaya Yamunotri Bala Vihar children, from Shree Rama (Grades 5-6) and Nachiketa (Grade 1) presented “Navadha Bhakti” from the episode when Lord Rama meets Shabari and extols the nine forms of devotion that are dear to the Lord. The story of Valmiki showed devotion through satsanga (company of saints) and fondness for the stories of the Lord. The story of Totakacharya demonstrated humility and devotion to serve the guru, the story of Bhadrachala Ramadasu showed devotion through singing the Lord’s praises with devotion and reciting His name with unwavering faith and adoration as revealed in the Vedas. Gandhiji’s story was depicted to demonstrate the qualities of Brahmacharya, the practice of self-control and virtue, desisting from manifold activities and ever pursuing the course of conduct prescribed for the saints; to see the world as full of the Lord without distinction, and reckon the saints as even greater than the Lord. The other qualities explained by Lord Rama to Shabari was to live a simple, value filled life, remain content with whatever you get and never think of detecting others faults, and also to be guileless and straight in your dealings with everybody, and in your heart cherish implicit faith in the Lord without either the agitation of over-excitement or depression.
The presentation brought out the deeper significance and symbolism behind Lord Rama & Lakshmana’s meeting with Shabari explaining the nine forms of devotion that are so dear to the Lord.
The event was concluded with prayers and Aarti followed by Mahaprasadam, a sattvic yet sumptuous lunch lovingly prepared and served by Mission volunteers.
Weekly Bala Vihar and Adult classes:
Chinmaya Mission is dedicated to educating our children, adults and families as a whole, fostering self-development through right understanding of our religious principles and practice of value-based living. Mission continues to offer weekly classes, lectures and discourses, including periodic camps and retreats to support and strengthen our families.
Mission also routinely conducts blood drives, food drives, health awareness seminars, inter-faith meetings, fund raising for rural projects in India (to support CORD – Chinmaya Organization of Rural Development, India), etc. With 2 vibrant centers, Yamunotri (in Grayslake, IL) and Badri (in Willowbrook, IL), over 1000 children and hundreds of families are involved in the Bala Vihar and Adult classes held each week on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Upcoming Youth Camps:
Chinmaya Mission will be holding their 31st Annual week long youth day-camps this summer. The camp at Yamunotri (Grayslake) is from June 17-23, 2013, and the themes are “Playful Ganesha” for Gr. KG-6, and “Serve All, Love All – Path to Greatness” for Gr. 7-12. The camp at Badri (Willowbrook) is from July 22-28, and the themes are “Lord Shiva – the cool God” for Gr. KG-6, and “My Life is my Message – the Gita Way”, Mahatma Gandhi for Gr. 7-12. Daily activities go from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and include, Yogasanas, Scriptural Education, Daily Arts and Crafts, Puja, Prayers, Chanting, culminating in a Fun Fair on Saturday, and a cultural show on Sunday. To register, please click on: www.mychinmaya.org/ycamp/
You can get details about all the Mission activities by visiting www.chinmaya-chicago.org, or www.chinmaya-yamunotri.org, or by contacting Mrs. Rajul Bhalala at 847-302-2383 (or) Acharya Shanker Pillai at 630-886-6442.