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Rousing Start To IYD in the Chicagoland

June 15, 2017 12:59 AM

Rousing Start To IYD in Chicagoland

By Jatinder Singh Bedi

CHICAGO – Amidst vedic opulence and the reverberating chants, International Yoga Day 2017 (IYD) celebrations were put to a start at Sri Venkateswara Swami Balaji Temple near here past weekend. This ‘soft-launch’ took place on 4th June 2017 under the aegis of Ms. Neeta Bhushan, the Consul General of India at Chicago. The launch coincided with Lord Balaji’s Abhishekam, an auspicious annual ritual that attracts thousands from all across Midwestern US.

“On behalf of the Indian Consulate, I invite all of you to participate in the celebrations on 24th June,” Deputy Consul General Mr. OP Meena said while addressing the devotees in the sanctum sanctorum during Abhishekam’s momentary pause. He stated that “IYD is India Prime Minister’s high-priority project.”

Over 50 diverse entities are partnering towards the success of this festival. These include: Brahma Kumaris Meditation Centre, Gayatri Gyan Mandir, Isha Foundation, Sahaja Yoga Meditation, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, SEWA International, Science of Spirituality, Eye on India, Temple of Harmony, Sri Venkateshwara Swami Balaji Temple, and Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. This launch onwards, a series of satellite events have been planned in the run-up to the June 24th mega event.

Acknowledging the importance of Yoga for medical benefits as well as peace and harmony among the mankind, the United Nations declared 21 June as International Yoga Day. “It was an outcome of the initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during 69th General Assembly of United Nations in September 2014,” Mr. OP Meena added. A total of 175 member nations had co-sponsored this resolution that India had moved at the United Nations.

The launch was an interesting amalgam of religion, spirituality as well as patriotism. As the launch progressed, unison recitation of synchronic mantras by 14 priests — 7 dedicated to Lord Shiva, another 7 to Lord Venkateshwara — filled the air. Interspersed with the notes of Thavil and the tunes of Naad Swaram these entrancing renditions resonated the precincts through and through. Thence, transcending the praying votaries into, perhaps, the celestial realms of oblivion. In between here, the IYD ceremony was delicately plugged-in during a short procedural gap.

In his address Mr. OP Meena mentioned that the June 24th activities include, a two-hour-long “Official Function, followed by a Community Festival.” The former comprises of a “Breakfast with Consul General, Cultural Program, Inaugural Ceremony, and Common Yoga Protocol.” The Community Festival includes: Discourses by Spiritual Leaders, Yoga Activities, and several programs for children, Seniors, etc.

Over 50 diverse entities are partnering towards the success of this festival. These include: Brahma Kumaris Meditation Centre, Gayatri Gyan Mandir, Isha Foundation, Sahaja Yoga Meditation, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, SEWA International, Science of Spirituality, Eye on India, Temple of Harmony, Sri Venkateshwara Swami Balaji Temple, and Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. This launch onwards, a series of satellite events have been planned in the run-up to the June 24th mega event.

Emphasizing that IYD “is a free-entry event,” Mr. OP Meena appealed to the Balaji Temple Board of Trustees, as well as to the temple management to “extend their support in celebration of the 3rd IYD.”

In response, assuring full support to the event, Chairman of the Temple Board of Trustees, Dr Prabhakar Gupta Garla said, “I am pleased to be a part of the 3rd IYD. …We encourage everyone to participate in the Yoga Day that is being promoted by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We [at Balaji Temple] have been offering yoga classes for seniors, children and adults, for past several years; free of charge. I strongly recommend all of you to extend full support to the IYD by participating in its activities.”

Deputy Consul General Mr. OP Meena, reciprocated with as much warmth. He thanked Chairman Dr Prabhakar Gupta Garla for the enormous support extended for last two years. “Today they [Balaji Temple Board of Trustees] have invited us in this Abhishekam, and gave us an opportunity to promote yoga [the soft launch]; I would like to thank the [Temple] Chairman for this wonderful opportunity,” he said.

Mr. Maruti Gudavalli, Temple’s connect to IYD, introduced OP Meena to six of the Trustees of the temple that were present there. Speaking about the Temple’s participation in the IYD, Mr. Maruti Gudavalli said that the Balaji temple is in full support and we expect over 200 participants from our temple.”

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