TUSTIN, CA – The Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles’s Diwali celebrations on Oct.25, was marked with the opening of its new “annakshetra” or dining hall at its Rameshwaram center, here. Appropriately enough, the several pujas and prayers were interspersed with a Vedantic talk on food by head acharya...
Sanskrit chants and symbolic rituals to invoke the divine and ward off negative spirits also preceded the official opening ceremony at the entrance of the new two-level, 3000 square feet facility. Remarkably, CMLA chose to honor three ladies by inviting them to do the ribbon cutting: Viji Mahadev who is known to every CMLA member, having been associated with the Mission and being a force along with her husband Acharya Mahadevji from the time of its inception in Southern California; Rekha Acharya a long time volunteer, known for her dedication to CMLA and Sharada Iyer who has quietly supported her husband, Dr.Srinivasa Iyer while he spearheaded the current expansion of the center.
After the pujas and devotional bhajans, Swami Ishwarananda spoke on the significance of food or ‘annam’ and the annakut. Quoting from the Taittiriya Upanishad, he said that all beings on earth are born of food, are sustained by food and end as food for another being. Given that the life-breath is food, it is important to respect it, he said. Swamiji urged all present to not waste and to share with joy. The practice of sharing food is time immemorial and this community sharing is what the annakut is all about, he explained. Others who spoke included Dr. Iyer, who pointed out that the facility was meant for the entire SoCal community and encouraged all to take advantage of it, and Acharya Mahadevji who lauded the volunteers for their dedication.
After the arati, the 300 strong crowd were served mahaprasad. The opening of the facility was dedicated to the founder of the Mission, Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda whose birth centenary is being marked by followers. Swami Ishwarananda said that the official and ceremonial dedication would take place on June 28, 2015 during the weeklong, scheduled visit to CMLA of its current worldwide head, Swami Tejomayananda.