Chicago: Hindu Swayam-sevak Sangh USA Inc. (HSS) inaugurated its year-long “SV150” celebration of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary on January 12. The inaugural events, held at over 100 locations nationwide, were attended by over 10,000 participants. Swami Viveka-nanda, the Hindu monk, was born in Calcutta on January 12, 1863.
HSS launched the “SV150” with the support of over 300 other Hindu-American organizations, including yoga and kirtan associations. Swami Chidananda and Swami Varadananda of the Viveka-nanda Vedanta Society Chi-cago and Swami Dayananda Sarswati of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, also offered their blessings.
US Representative Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania’s 6th District of PA sent his greetings for the celebrations in Audubon, Pennsylvania. Also US Representative Bill Foster of Illinois’ 11th District joined the event held in Naperville, IL.
As part of the inaugural event, HSS also opened the registration portal for its first-ever Dharma Bee, a nationwide quiz contest for children from kindergarten to eighth grade, at www.dharmabee.org. This edition of the Dharma Bee will have questions on Bhagwan Sri Krishna along with the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda.
The inaugural event also included the premier of a 20-minute video produced by HSS on the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda.
The Chicago chapter of HSS held the event at all three Shaakhaa locations — Abhi-manyu Shaakhaa, Schaum-burg, Naperville Shaakhaa and Lake County Shaakhaa in Libertyville. Guests of honor were Aneeta Godbole at Abhimanyu shaakhaa, one of the founding Swayamsevaks of the Shaakhaa (founded on January 12, 1997); Rajul Bhalla from Chinmaya Mission at the Lake County Shaakhaa; and Dr. Bill Foster, 11th District Congressman at the Naperville Shaakhaa. Dr. Indra Makhija of Vivekanada Vedanta Society delivered the keynote address on the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda at the Naperville shaakhaa. Representatives of 10 other Chicago area associations and groups graced the Naperville Shaakhaa.
The events started with hoisting of the Bhagawa Dhwaj (Safron Flag) followed by traditional Deep Prajwalan (lighting of a lamp) by the guests. The program included cultural performances, yoga demonstrations, and other activities, Sankalp (taking a pledge) by all Swayamsevaks, and Dhrma Bee competition registration launch. Books on the life and teachings of Swami Viveka-nanda were made available for sale at the venue.
The year-long Swami Viveka-nanda’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations will include programs for high school and college students, a traveling exhibit on Swami Viveka-nanda’s life, visits to major university campuses and “Vacation with Viveka-nanda” excursions to locations where Swami Vivekananda visited during his travels in the United States; and a “Dharma and Yoga Fest,” on a regional basis to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s groundbreaking address at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago on September 11, 1893.
HSS conducts a structured value education program through its 150 chapters nationwide to develop strong character, teamwork and leadership skills, for a dynamic and flourishing Hindu-American community.
For more information, visit www.hssus.org. For HSS activities in the Chicago area, please contact Vasant Pandav at 630-340-7672.