Senior citizens and young graduates start 2017 with a Mata Ki Chowki
(Left) Raj Razdan delivers her remarks. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)
Senior Citizens Program (SCP) got off to a flying New Year start with a devotional Mata Ki Chowki at the Garden Plaza Hotel in Norcross, GA on Sunday, January 22, 2017.
Graduates (below) doing Mata Ki Chowki puja.
The event was performed by Atlanta Chowki Group, headed by Shri Inder Beri and group, sponsored by SCP volunteer Chinti Bali; Sunanda & Varjinder Sharma; Ashok & Poonam Datta; Jagdish & Santosh Shailly. This year, Mata ki Chowki had added significance in that five recent medical school graduates, Bhavna Bali, Sofina Bali, Prateek Bali, Rajat Shailly, and Shikha Shailly, dental school graduate Kuldeep Sharma, English and Japanese Language Honors graduate Himani Bali, and IT graduate Shivani Sharma performed the puja and also received the blessings of Mataji, the Atlanta Chowki Group, and all the seniors present. Seniors were represented in the ceremony by Mr. Bachubhai and his wife Laxmiben Patel.
Laxmiben and Bachubhai draping chunni on Mataji. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)
The elegantly decorated stage with diyas (lamps), stringed lights, fresh fruits, and prasad (offerings) wore a festive look with Mataji’s dazzling framed picture in the center of the puja platform, adorned with a gorgeous chunni (scarf) with colorful fresh flower garlands. Ganeshji’s idol also sat on the platform in full splendor, garlanded and draped with a red chunni.
Vinod Grover and Kalpana Bery wished all a happy new year and invited the graduates to perform various rituals, e.g. aahavanam (invitation) to “Divine Mataji (Sherawali Ma) who symbolizes the holy trinity of Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati,” Ganapati puja (to the remover of obstacles), jyot ceremony, garlanding and draping of the chundadi (silk sari) on Mata Rani ji. President of Atlanta Chowki Group Inder Bery’s prowess on dholak was hypnotic.
The audience. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)
The congregation sat in rapt attention listening to melodious and spiritually elevating bhajans (divine songs) and praises of Mataji Vaishno Devi, in mellifluous voices by Kalpana Bery, Kshama Kakade, Rajesh Sharma, Smriti Sharma, Santosh Grover, Suresh Mohan, and Kusum Mohan. As the fervor picked up with clapping and singing, all joined in the rousing chanting of “Ganapati Bappa Morya,” “Jai ho, jai ho Sherawali maa.”
Chinti Bali addresses the gathering. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)
Chinti Bali gave the thanks. Raj Razdan, ebullient Executive Director of SCP, wished the graduates rewarding and fulfilling professional carriers and advised them to serve the community when they start working. She exhorted all the attendees to bless these graduates.
Seniors clapping and dancing. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)
Before the ardas ceremony, the seniors got on their feet and enthusiastically clapped and danced to rousing singing and loud beats of the drums to a few popular songs including the spiritual Sufi song “Dama dam mast qalandar.” Inder Bery and all the singers gave their hearts out from beginning to end. The grand finale for this spiritual high was the aarti, followed by prasadam of halwa (sweets), chhole (chick peas), fruits, and dry fruits, followed by a sumptuous luncheon.
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