Welcome and Happy New Year 2017! The Senior Citizens Program (SCP) got off to a flying New Year start with a devotional “Mata Ki Chowki” at the Garden Plaza in Norcross, GA on Sunday, January 22.
The Mata ki Chowki, hosted by Senior Citizens Program Inc. was performed by Atlanta Chowki Group headed by Shri Inder Beri and Group, sponsored by SCP’s long time and dedicated volunteer Chinti Bali in the lead and by Sunanda & Varjinder Sharma; Ashok and Poonam Datta; Jagdish and 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 Pooja and also received the blessings of Mataji, the Atlanta Chowki Group and all the seniors present at the Chowki. The seniors were represented in the Pooja ceremony by Mr Bachubhai and his wife Laxmiben Patel.
The elegantly decorated stage with diyas (lamps), stringed lights, fresh fruits and prasad (offerings) wore a festive look in its ornate finery with Mataji’s dazzling framed picture in the center of the Puja platform, adorned with a gorgeous chunni with colorful fresh flower garlands. Ganeshji’s idol aslo sat on the platform in full splendor ,garlanded and draped with a red chunni.
Vinod Grover and Kalpana Bery from the Atlanta chowki group warmly welcomed all the congregation and wished them happy new year and invited the graduates to perform various Pooja rituals,like aahavanam(invitation) to “Divine Mataji (Sherawali Ma) who symbolizes the holy trinity of Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati’,Ganapati Pooja,(worship to the remover of all obstacles),’jyot’ ceremony,garlanding and draping of the ‘chundadi’ on Mata Rani ji and seeking her blessings. The President of the Atlanta Chowki Group Inder Bery’s prowess on Dholak Player was hypnotic.
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, congregation joined in the rousing chanting of Ganapati Bappa Morya, ‘Jai ho,jai ho Sherawali maa’ , generating intense euphoria with transcendental vibrations.
Chinti Bali thanked all for attending Mata ki Chowki. She further thanked the Graduates for taking part in the Chowki and seeking blessings of Mata ji and also all the seniors present.
Raj Razdan, ebullient Executive Director of SCP, also expressed her warm welcome and New Year greetings to all. She congratulated the Graduates and wished them rewarding and fulfilling professional carriers. She also advised them to serve the community when they start working. She exhorted all the attendees to bless these graduates.
Before the ardas ceremony, the seniors got on their feet and enthusiastically began clapping and dancing to rousing singing and loud beats of the drums to a few popular songs including the spiritual Sufi song Dama dam mast qalandar. The music and singing showed that 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 (offerings) of Halwa (sweets), Chhole (chick peas), fruits and dry fruits et al followed by a sumptuous luncheon.
Text & Photo: Mahadev Desai