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Chinmaya Mission Boston Celebrates Diwali 2015

Neena V.

On November 7th, the Chinmaya Mission Boston family came together at the Wyndham Hotel in Andover to celebrate with friends and members of the larger community, its annual Diwali gala event/banquet. And what an event it was! While there’s something magical about any typical fall evening in New England to begin with, one experiences a whole different level of sensory delight when the green, yellow, gold, red and rust hues of the outside world mingle with similar hues in the glistening silks, cloudy chiffons, and dazzling georgettes of our very own fashionistas! As members of the larger Chinmaya Mission Boston community descended upon the venue to enjoy yet another memorable evening marked by ‘fun, faith, family, and community,’ I caught my breath as I felt my heart fill with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, and a deep sense of belonging to this great family I have continued to be a part of, for so many years.

Indeed, this special evening, as with almost everything we do as an organization, had its signature blending of the two worlds we are all so fortunate to be a part of: East and the West; India and the US; traditional and the modern; spiritual and the cultural; family and community; kids and adults; and the list goes on…  

This year’s event was truly enchanting in every way. Right from the beautiful décor of the venue, with its very unique Diwali theme to mark the occasion (the diyas that formed the core of the theme design throughout the venue were all painted and colored by the CMB kids); the aroma of eucalyptus oil pervading the lobby area from the mehendi (henna) cones set up for women and young girls to indulge in one last opportunity to embellish their hands with intricate designs; the opportunity to take family portraits onsite, dressed as one was in such fineries for the special occasion; the enchanting magic tricks of Phil Smith to entertain the kids; AND to the delight of our ‘shop-till-you-drop’ ladies, a special opportunity to shop from a beautiful array of silk saris in brilliant colors, as they discussed, compared, opined, bought, and merrily chattered amongst themselves, much to the complete ignorance of their significant others. It was a true delight to watch! As I watched on from my delegated responsibility at the check-in table, I realized that in almost every aspect of the evening, there was a hidden opportunity to mingle and blend, to laugh and share, to simply delight in the small nuances orchestrated by the planning committee just in the lobby area itself.   

The main banquet hall hosted the formal events of the evening. The evening was gracefully emceed by CMB family members Kumar Subramaniam and Chitra Sundaram, who kept the program flowing smoothly and efficiently throughout the evening. Dr. Shashi Dwarakanath, also the Bala Vihar program coordinator welcomed everyone to the event, and took the opportunity to showcase the pride of the CMB Center – the Bala Vihar program and its army of volunteer teachers. The Indian national anthem was sung by the audience, and was followed by an absolutely mesmerizing rendition of the American national anthem by our very own ninth grade BV student Hamsaa Kumar. Philanthropist and entrepreneur Dr. Desh Deshpande graced the occasion as well, and spoke insightfully to a rapt audience on the value of the work of the mission and the need for balance and harmony in life.  

CMB’s kids choir ‘Bala Swaranjali’ performed the beautiful invocation and added their own flavor to the evening through some devotional songs, trained most ably by CMB member Dr. Laxmi Ramesh.

This was followed by the soulful music and melodies from Aparna Balaji’s Ensemble. As her voice streamed through the double doors into the lobby area, it became increasingly challenging for me to stay focused on my delegated responsibility of manning the check-in table. All resolve was lost when all of a sudden, classical traditional tenors got jauntily transformed into the frolicking beat of the younger generation’s dance renditions to the peppy tunes of ‘Chal Bhaiya  Selfie Le Le Re…,’ and a couple others, in a brilliant choreography by CMB member Archana Gorur. As I snuck into the banquet hall to watch the zesty dance performance of our Bala Vihar kids merrily on stage, I spotted an absolutely stunning young woman with one kid on her hip, and another clutching on to her sari, making a similar dash to catch the performance so that her kids could watch as well. She looked to be of Chinese-American descent. It was really heartwarming to see the young mother point out to the stage with great excitement, as she whispered to both her kids – presumably suggesting that this was also part of who they were. In that moment, I realized just what it is that we stood for, and what it is we did best, as an organization.

Kids from CMB Metro West also performed a heart-touching song under the guidance of Padmini Nagarajan.   

Following a brief fundraising segment, and a quick review of the organization’s sound financial standing, the audience spent the rest of the evening enjoying a delicious meal catered by the Soul of India restaurant, and the enthralling trickeries of magician Phil Smith  

As emcee Kumar Subramaniam requested different departments in the organization to stand up and take a bow of recognition – BV and language teachers, prasad committee, spiritual committee, seva team, library team, diwali banquet committee, executive committee, fianance and so on.. it occurred to me that very few people remained seated – and that is the mark and essence of a truly and fully functional and integrated organization. It felt great to be a part of this organization.

The evening concluded with spectacular professional fireworks. Well over 350 people attended the event and it would be fair to say that people had fun, enjoyed some good food and company and became convinced once again that Chinmaya Mission Boston is transforming lives and creating positive contributors to our society.

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