Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chicago to celebrate Swamiji’s 150th birth anniversary on a grand scale


Chicago, January 1: Chicago has decided to celebrate Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary on a grand scale. Chicago was the place where Swamiji got international recognition for himself, for India’s Vedanta and Vedic spirituality and for Hinduism with his maiden powerful “Sisters and Brothers of America” speech at the World’s Parliament of Religions on that historic day – September 11, 1893.
The 150th birth anniversary of Vivekananda will be celebrated with major functions to be held at Sri Ramakrishna Universal Temple in Homer Glen and at the nearby Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in Lemont.  Other official celebrations are expected to be held at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago.
According to an Indian Embassy official in Washington, the Consulate General of India in Chicago is coordinating with all the institutions in the city with the support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and India’s Ministry for Culture.
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh-USA (HSS-USA) has also chalked out an elaborate year-long celebration with a series of programs involving children, the youth and the elderly. The theme of the celebration is “Universal peace through Dharma and Yoga,” which is the message of Swami Vivekananda.
The day-long program to be organized on January 12, by Vivekananda Spiritual Center Committee at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in Gupta Hall/Rathi Auditorium, Lemont, includes a group yoga conducted by Prasad Palacharla. On January 13, the program starts with an invocation ceremony at 10:00 a.m., followed by an inaugural speech by the Consul General of India, followed by speeches by Swami Chidananda, Swami Jyotirmayananda, Cindy Visscher, Swamy Varadananda, Dr. Indra Makhija, Amrish Mahajan and Bhima Reddy. There will be a screening of a movie on Swami Vivekananda recently shot in Chicago and a bhajan presentation by a group from South Bend, IN.
While the newly-built Sri Ramakrishna Universal Temple of Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago in Homer Glen, with its serene ashram-like ambience, plans to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary with a commemorative Shiva nama Sankirtanam at 6:30 p.m. after Arati on January 12, 2013 (a bigger program will be held in September), the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago complex, where the imposing statue of Swami Vivekananda stands under a beautifully decorated canopy and the newly constructed Vivekananda Spiritual Center are located, will celebrate the event for two days — January 12 and 13 — which coincide with the celebration of the Indian harvest festival of Makara Sankranti or Pongal.
Besides commemorative Shiva nama Sankirtanam on January 12, the month of September has been chosen for the bigger celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda for two reasons by Sri Ramakrishna Universal Temple in Homer Glen.  It was on September 21, 2008, Sri Ramakrishna Universal Temple was inaugurated, and it was on September 11, 1893 Swami Vivekananda addressed the World’s Parliament of Religions. The important days for celebrations in the temple will be September 8, 15, 22 and 29.
The other events being planned during the yearlong celebration, include conferences to be addressed by scholars and senior monks of the Ramakrishna Mission from around the world; a mini-parliament of religions with participation of  representatives from various faiths; a program in honor of Swami Vivekananda at the Art Institute of Chicago; a bus tour of places associated with Swami Vivekananda;  a lecture by Asim Chaudhuri, author of “Swami Vivekananda in Chicago;” publication of a calendar featuring photographs of Swami Vivekananda and information about his life; a display on the people and places associated with Swami Vivekananda in Chicago; a guide book with color photos of the places associated with Swami Vivekananda in Chicago; and framing and installing panels on life of Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863 and his 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated in India and all over the world on January 12, 2013. The government of India has originally planned to celebrate the birth anniversary for a year and launched it on January 12, 2012, but the celebration has been extended for two years ending on January 12, 2014. The government has set up a National Committee under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and a National Implementation Committee under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister P Chidambaram and released Rs. 100 crore to the Rama-Krishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission in Belur for the celebration.
It also established in 2012 a new visiting professorship in Indian studies with a gift of $1.5 million at University of Chicago to commemorate the legacy of spiritual leaders Swami Vivekananda.

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