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New England Dharma And Yoga Fest 2013

Press Release

The New England chapter of Hindu Syamamsevak Sangh (HSS) organized a Dharma and Yoga Fest on September 15th at the Littleton High School, Littleton, MA to commemorate the 150th year birth anniversary of the world renowned spiritual leader, Swami Vivekananda.  This culmination event was the third large scale event that was organized in Swamiji’s honor this year. Swamiji was the first Hindu monk who introduced Yoga to the West and influenced the East and West alike with his simplicity and teachings that were relevant to the modern world. The kickoff event was held on January 12, 2013 (Swami Vivekananda’s Birthday) across multiple New England locations with a focus on his message to the world, “Universal Peace through Dharma and Yoga”. A yearlong celebration that started with the kick off also included a Dharma Bee held in April 2013, across the US where thousands of children participated in a Quiz format event on Lord Krishna and Swami Vivekananda.  It was only fitting that a culmination event pays tribute to both – Lord Krishna and Swami Vivekananda.

The celebration event was multi-track, targeted for all ages and was dedicated to Swamiji’s clear classification of Yoga in its present form as four paths - Raja, Jnana, Bhakti and Karma Yoga.  The parallel tracks of the event were categorized into Intellectual, Cultural and BalMela. The program started with a community Ganesha Puja, where families gathered together and offered their prayers to Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. It was a beautiful setting with children following instructions to offer their prayers to the deity with some help from their parents.

The Intellectual track consisted of sessions inspired by Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga. Programs in this session included Yoga and Meditation sessions, and discussions on various motivating and information topics such as the power of positive thinking in life, benefits of being a vegan, tracing the origins of Hindu Dharma, Yoga and Meditation, and, the need and importance of having a Living Will in this day and age. Each session was well conducted by the respected speakers who were very knowledgeable in their respective areas and kept the audiences glued to the discussions.

The Cultural track began with Inauguration by the Chief Guest of the evening, Dr S. P. Kothari, Deputy Dean Gordon Y Billard Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.  Dr. Yelloji Mirajkar also spoke eloquently for a few minutes on Success and its true meaning.

The theme of the cultural track was Bhakti Yoga with many bhajans, devotional songs and classical dances from various spiritual and cultural organizations such as the Milford Gurudwara, Lasya School of Dance, Eastern Rhythm group, Sanskrit Bharati and Iskon.  The highlight of the Cultural track, however was Krishnaleela, conceived, produced, directed and executed by the Sevikas of the New England chapter of HSS. Over 85 children from various Shakhas (Chapters) across New England worked together to present an amazing, hour long, spell binding skit on events from Lord Krishna’s life. The ambience created by grand sets, glittering and era representative costumes, aptly timed narration, background scores, and above all innocent children rendering their roles with extreme conviction were the highpoints of the show.

The BalMela was a fun indoor arcade set up by the Youth volunteers to keep young minds challenged and entertained with a variety of fun filled activity such as Face Painting, Henna and games such as Animal Toss, Darts, Cup stacking, Parle G (a special kind of cookie) eating contest, Ring Toss and Bowling to name a few. The Youth volunteers followed great discipline in organizing the program with regular weekly calls, coming up with unique ideas for games and gathering all their resources to make the BaleMela a success.

Overall, the ambience was that of a grand festival, with an impressively decorated entrance, a welcome desk where guests were welcomed in a traditional way, corridors that were lined up with posters displaying aspects of Swami Vivekananda’s life and ethnic goods vendors displaying and selling traditional jewelry and ethnic wear.  The food was sponsored by Bollywood Grill and delicious Kulfi (traditional Ice-cream) served by Bollywood Delights. The evening ended with appreciation and Prarthna (Prayer) and a satisfied team motivated to take on greater challenges in the future.

Few Quotes:

“I have never seen such a combination of energy and high level of organization. Not only the adults, but I saw young children motivated and eager to contribute towards the organization and planning of the event and helping out wherever they can”. Sunil Kulkarni

“What an amazing event! The books available on Swami Vivekananda at the stalls were so inspiring that I started reading it as soon as I purchased it”. Shivali Patel

“I loved doing the Ganesh Puja, it reminded me of how we do the puja at home”. Vinay (child)

“I admire Swami Vivekananda and I am so honored that I was invited to showcase my jewelry and be a part of this big event”. Geeta Bhalla (Vendor)

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