Chinmaya Mission Chicago’s Annual Fund Raising Banquet
Asian Media USA ©
Chicago IL: The Annual Fundraising Banquet for Chinmaya Mission Chicago harmoniously blended inspirational thoughts, spirited fundraising, sumptuous food, and artistic performances into a memorable evening. The event took place at Waterford Banquet and Conference Center in Elmhurst, IL on November 6, 2016. The goal was to raise funds for upcoming Badri center expansion project and to support and enhance the existing programs offered by the two Chinmaya Mission centers in the Chicago area Badri Center in Willowbrook, IL, and Yamunotri Center in Grayslake, IL.
With over seven hundred people in attendance and more than two hundred thousand dollars raised, the event was an overwhelming show of support for the spiritual and service-oriented work being done by Chinmaya Mission, both at the local and global level.
Chinmaya Mission was founded in the 1950s by the devotees of one of the greatest Vedantic Masters of twentieth century, Swami Chinmayananda. Its purpose as stated in the words of Swami Chinmayananda is, “To provide to individuals from any background the wisdom of Vedanta and the practical means for spiritual growth and happiness, enabling them to become positive contributors to society.”
The evening started by welcoming the revered guests, Swami Ishwarananda (resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles), Swami Sharanananda (resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission Chicago), Acharya Jetindra Nayar & Acharya Swapna Nayar (resident Acharyas of Chinmaya Mission Chicago), Acharya Shanker Pillai (President, Board of Trustees for Chinmaya Mission Chicago), and Acharya Dhiren Khatri (Chinmaya Mission Chicago), and Br. Yatindra Chaitanya (posted to Chinmaya Mission Dallas) were received with the traditional purna-kumbha welcome ceremony, invoking the blessings of Pujya Gurudev for a successful program.
Special invited dignitaries and supporters present were- Drs. Shankar and Jyoti Peruri, Mr. Lakshman & Mrs. Dr. Vedavati Agadi, Drs. Ramesh and Asha Chhablani, Dr. Gopal and Mrs. Neetu Lalmalani, Drs. Shashi and Anil Agarwal, Dr. S. Ramamurthy, Mr. Raghu Raman and Mrs. Remya Raghu Raman, Mr. & Mrs. Nakul Chand Singh, Dr. Varun Khanna (Chinmaya International Foundation) and Mr. and Mrs. Neil Patel.
The highlight of the evening was the inspiration kindled by the Acharyas. Swami Sharanananda gave the inaugural welcome with his usual humor and charm. He is Chicago’s beloved Acharya, who works relentlessly serving many centers in Chicago and its surrounding areas. He underscored in his message that it is very simple to be happy, just love God. Simplicity takes our thinking to the highest.
Swami Ishwarananda’s message brought out the importance of Simple living vs Simply living. While ostentation is seen as a show of one’s abundance and material wealth, simplicity is the expression of inner wealth. A calm mind is a happy mind. The Ultimate Truth is self-evident and therefore one who has realized it does not need anything else for his joy and contentment.
Br. Yatindra Chaitanya spoke on his experience of the Bala Vihar prgram he attended in Chicago and his training at Sandeepany Sandhanalaya in Mumbai under Pujya Guruji, Swami Tejomayananda and Swami Bodhatmananda. Yatindraji is now posted to Chinmaya Mission Dallas-Ft. Worth center.
Dr. Varun Khanna spoke on the Sanskrit University- Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, an accredited university dedicated to the study of Sanskrit and Indian Knowledge Traditions. The main campus is at Chinmaya International Foundation in Veliyanad, Kerala at the birth home of Adi Shankaracharya and constituent campus at Chinmaya Naada Bindu, Kolwan, Maharashtra. Online courses are also available. Chinmaya Mission Chicago helps support the work of this esteemed institution.
Acharya Shanker Pillai outlined the goals, activities, expansion plans, and the need for funds to continue in meeting the growing needs of the community. The existing Badri building complex expansion plan is in planning stage and is anticipated to be complete within 2 years. He elaborated on the proposed idea of building well-planned retirement homes adjacent to the Badri Center, to support the physical and spiritual needs of senior citizens. Dr. Premal Joshipura (board member of Chinmaya Mission Chicago) elaborated on the current financial obligations of Chinmaya Mission and the various means to help with the funding.
The entertainment for the evening was an enchanting mix of dances and music presented by children from the Bala Vihar program, supported by adult volunteers. Bala Vihar is an integral part of Chinmaya Mission and was started by Swami Chinmayananda to instill good values right from childhood and inspire kids to live a nobler life. In his own words, “Children are not vessels to be filled, but lamps to be lit.”
High school youth provided service throughout the evening by babysitting children of banquet attendees and helping with collecting donation envelopes. Chinmaya Yuva Kendra, popularly referred to as CHYK was represented by Amita Prabhu, who shared her passion for serving CORD (Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development), volunteering to teach weekly Bala Vihar classes, and organizing weekend retreats.
The event came to a conclusion with the chanting of Bhagavad Gita chapter XV, followed by a delicious meal served by India House restaurant. A complementary souvenir book featuring inspiring articles, information about classes offered at Chinmaya Mission Chicago, class pictures, and advertisements from local supporting companies was given to each family as a token of appreciation for attending the banquet. Special mention of Mrs. Smriti Mehta and Mr. Suresh Kumar for the extra effort directed toward the successful production of this booklet.
The message of “Simple Living and High Thinking” resonated throughout the event, evident in the harmonious working of the volunteers, both on and off the stage. For over 37 years, Chinmaya Mission has been serving the Chicagoland area by conducting weekly Bala Vihar classes & adult study groups, summer youth camps, and spiritual retreats.
Please contact Acharya Shanker Pillai (630-886-6442) for details regarding activities at Badri Center (11S080 Rte. 83, Willowbrook, IL 60527/www.mychinmaya.org) center, Mrs. Rajul Bhalala (847-302-2383) for details regarding Yamunotri Center activities (30877 N Fairfield Rd, Grayslake, IL 60030/ www.chinmaya-yamunotri.org), and Mr. Jagadish Devarajan (312-208-8624) for details regarding activities at Chicago City Center.