The Chinmaya Mission Chicago raised over $200,000 for an expansion project and to enhance existing mission programs during a fundraiser at Waterford Banquet and Conference Center in Elmhurst, Ill., November 6.
The event that blended fundraising with inspirational thoughts, food and artistic performances was attended by over 700 people.
The money will be spent on the upcoming Badri center expansion project and to support and enhance the existing programs of the two Chinmaya Mission centers in the Chicago area – Badri Center in Willowbrook, and Yamunotri Center in Grayslake.
Rajul Bhalala, an official from the center, said people showed an overwhelming show of support for the spiritual and service-oriented work being done by the Chinmaya Mission, both at local and global level.
“We have not yet finalized the details of how the funds are going to be utilized, nor allocated them for various work to be done under the projects,” Bhalala, told this correspondent over phone.
Chinmaya Mission was founded in the 1950s by the devotees of one of the greatest Vedantic masters of the 20th Century, Swami Chinmayananda “to provide 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 with welcoming the guests – Swami Ishwarananda, resident acharya of Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles; Swami Sharanananda, resident acharya of Chicago; acharya Jetindra Nayar and acharya Swapna Nayar, resident acharyas of Chicago; acharya Shanker Pillai, president, board of trustees for Chinmaya Mission Chicago; acharya Dhiren Khatri of Chinmaya Mission, Chicago, and Yatindra Chaitanya of Chinmaya Mission Dallas – with the traditional purna-kumbha ceremony.
Special dignitaries, and supporters included Shankar and Jyoti Peruri, Lakshman and Vedavati Agadi, Ramesh and Asha Chhablani, Gopal and Neetu Lalmalani, Shashi and Anil Agarwal, S. Ramamurthy, Raghu Raman and Remya Raghu Raman, among others.
The highlight of the evening was the inspirational addressees given by the acharyas, including Swami Sharanananda.
Varun Khanna spoke on the Sanskrit University – Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, an accredited university for the study of Sanskrit and Indian knowledge traditions.
The main campus is located at Chinmaya International Foundation in Veliyanad, Kerala, the birth place 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 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 is at planning stage and is expected to be complete within 2 years. He elaborated on the proposed idea of building well-planned retirement homes adjacent to the Badri Center.
The evening’s entertainment 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 in people right from childhood and inspire kids to live a nobler life.
Chinmaya Yuva Kendra was represented by Amita Prabhu, who shared her passion for serving 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 followed by a delicious meal served by India House restaurant.
For over 37 years, Chinmaya Mission has been serving the Chicagoland area by conducting weekly Bala Vihar classes and adult study groups, summer youth camps, and spiritual retreats.
For more information about Badri Venter, contact acharya Shanker Pillai at 630-886-6442, or visit www.mychinmaya.org