A Mela to Remember at Chinmaya Mission
By Priya Rastogi *
On Sunday, September 13, a mela was held at Chinmaya Mission Toronto.
It was a mix of planned games, spiritual learning, delicious food stalls and markets. In previous years, the market and a Bala Vihar (cultural and spiritual learning program for children) booth existed, but this year, the big draw for children was the introduction of a bouncy castle and interactive games. The CHYKS (Chinmaya Youth Group) were a great help in planning the event and there was something in the mela for everyone, no matter what their interest. There were games like life-sized jenga-tower of materialism, toss your thoughts at His feet ring toss, knock down negativities ball throw and Room Escape.
There was a Bala Vihar booth where members of all ages could learn about the Bala Vihar curriculum, while playing games. The food was delectable and there were huge but well-organized queues to grab a bite. Cotton candy was being freshly made. The desserts included ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, chocolates, and pancakes, a Chinmaya Mission Toronto tradition. Samosas and savoury Indian sweets were just as big hits as their western counterparts, and food tickets fast disappeared.
The jewellery and clothing markets had a wide variety of trinkets, finer jewellery, kurtas, and saris. All proceeds from these sales were matched by sponsors and donated to the Syrian refugees. On large screens all over the ashram, clips were constantly playing. New members heard children from Bala Vihar and their parents speaking of their experiences throughout their years. Aditi Sandhu, a Grade 7 student of Richmond Hill Montessori and Elementary Private School excitedly expressed, “It was really fun. The food was amazing and there were so many games. I would do this again any day.” Dr. Shalini Rastogi, a Bala Vihar teacher said, “After a long summer it was so nice to see all our families back. We could feel the love in the ashram. We were delighted to see so many new families.”
Many people enjoyed the screening of Upanishad Ganga, an award winning Indian television drama series based on the message in the Upanishads and produced by Chinmaya Mission.
All 52 episodes had been telecast by Doordarshan in India.
Dev and Gina, Acharyas of Chinmaya Mission Toronto, reflected that the event exemplified the purpose of Chinmaya Mission's activities here and worldwide. The purpose of Chinmaya Mission is summed up in their mission statement: To provide individuals from any background the wisdom of vedanta and the practical means for spiritual growth and happiness, enabling them to become positive contributors to society.
Overall, it was a day filled with fun and pleasant surprises and one that all visitors would remember for a very long time.
* Priya Rastogi is a Grade 5 student of Richmond Hill Montessori and Elementary Private School. She has recently been voted her Class Representative for the Student Council. Her interests lie in art, writing and sports, and she plays competitive soccer.
(Photos by Sridhar Raja)