The Annual Fundraising Banquet for Chinmaya Mission Chicago (CMC) harmoniously blended inspirational thoughts, spirited fundraising, sumptuous food, and artistic music performance by Eclipse Nirvana into a memorable evening. The event took place at Waterford Banquet and Conference Center in Elmhurst, IL on December 1, 2018. The goal was to raise funds for the existing and upcoming special projects offered by the three Chinmaya Mission centers in the Chicago area—Badri Center in Willowbrook, IL, Yamunotri Center in Grayslake, IL, and Gangotri Center in downtown Chicago area on Grand avenue.
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. Over five hundred thousand dollars were pledged toward interest free loans.
Chinmaya Mission was founded in the 1950s by the devotees of one of the greatest Vedantic Masters of twentieth century, Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda.. Its purpose as stated in the words of Pujya Gurudev 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 began ceremoniously by welcoming the revered guests, invited dignitaries and supporters including special guest and speaker acharya Shri Gaurang Nanavaty, head of the Chinmaya Mission Houston center. Gaurang Uncle’s inspirational message about the value of pursuing Higher Ideals and shifting our focus to Selfless Service moved everyone to aspire toward keeping the Timeless Values and traditions alive and well through the Bala Vihar and study group grassroots activities offered by the local mission centers.
Chinmaya Mission Chicago’s beloved resident Swami, Swami Sharanananda gave his love and blessings. Posted to CMC by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda, Respected Shri Jetindra Nayar, Smt Swapna Nayar, Shri Dhiren Khatri also graced the occasion.
Shri Shanker Pillai, president of Chinmaya Mission Chicago outlined the goals, activities, expansion plans, and the need for funds to continue in meeting the growing needs of the community. Dr. Ashok Dholakia, vice-president of CMC elaborated on the existing Badri building complex expansion plan which is currently in the final planning/bidding stage and is expected to be completed within 2 years.
Shri Shanker Pillai elaborated on the building of well-planned retirement/senior homes adjacent to the Badri Center, to support the physical and spiritual needs of senior citizens. This is unique ‘no cost’ concept is designed so as not to incur costs to the occupants other than living and maintenance. One, two and three bedroom units ranging in cost of $150,00to $300,000 based on the unit selected, to be refunded to the occupant or family member upon change of occupancy. The anticipated timeline is 2 years for the completion of this project. Preliminary zoning and other work has already begun. There is a lot of interest in this project and interested people are requested to sign up by contacting Sri Shanker Pillai at 630-886-6442.
The entertainment for the evening was provided by the musical group Eclipse Nirvana, a group specializing in devotional music.
High school youth provided service throughout the evening by babysitting children of banquet attendees and helping with collecting donation envelopes.
The event came to a conclusion with the chanting of Bhagavad Gita chapter XV, followed by a delicious meal served by India House restaurant. Shri Arun Mehrotra, secretary of CMC gave the thank you address. 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 Smt. Smriti Mehta and Shri Suresh Kumar for the extra effort directed toward the successful production of this booklet.
Bala Vihar is an integral part of Chinmaya Mission and was started by Pujya Gurudev 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.”
For over 39 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 Shri 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). Mr. Nitish Kanabar (347-829-9099) for Chicago City Center- Gangotri, 955 W Grand Ave, Chicago IL 60642