Hindu community celebrates 150th anniversary of leader
By Wendy Foster For The Sun January 16, 2013 5:14PM
Congressman Bill Foster (center) poses for a photo at the 150th celebration of the birth of Swami Vivekananda on Jan. 12 at Eola Community Center in Aurora. | Submitted by HSS
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:01PM
Jan. 12 marked an important date for the Hindu community. And more than 150 people gathered at Eola Community Center in Aurora to launch the yearlong observance of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Swami Vivekananda.
Known as SV150, the celebration honors the man widely considered to be responsible for introducing the United States to the Hindu philosophy and helping to elevate Hinduism as a world religion.
“His message is peace. Right now with all of the various wars and religious fervor, his message is universal. It’s about acceptance and peace,” said Ushasri Munukatla, one of the event coordinators. “It’s important to understand at this time that we can all get along. Our main goal is to reach God. If everyone keeps that in mind and respects one another, we can all live a more peaceful life with less violence.”
Naperville resident Venkata Nambori was also one of the coordinators of the event, which was sponsored by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Naperville. HSS is a volunteer-run not-for-profit that promotes Hindu ideals and values through educational and cultural programs and activities, outreach and more.
“The theme of the celebration was based on Swami Vivekananda’s message of universal peace through Dharma and Yoga,” he said. “Dharma is about righteous conduct through word and deed. Furthermore Swami Vivekananda considered social action as the service to poor and the needy, and he considered this the highest form of spiritual practice.”
SV150 is being observed for the next 12 months across the country.
The local celebration drew people from throughout the area.
“Within the event, we did some prayers, and showed a video of Swami Vivekananda’s life,” Munukatla said. “We did a lighting of the lamp, which is very symbolic in Hinduism, of leading the path to light, taking away darkness and evil. We always do this for auspicious events.”
Attendees also took a moment of silence to make a spiritual resolution for the upcoming year.”
Munukatla said that the event was open to the public, including U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) who was in attendance.
“His message is of all inclusiveness,” she said. “God is within every single person. His main message is that all religions lead to the same goal ... God. There are just different paths leading to the same place.”