New center offers sense of belonging

Hindus celebrate school, worship facility

 
 
  • Hindu priests Srihari Samudrala, left, and Srinivasasasty pray with Swami Sharanananda during the inauguration program at Chinmaya Mission Chicago, a Hindu school and worship center near Grayslake.

    Hindu priests Srihari Samudrala, left, and Srinivasasasty pray with Swami Sharanananda during the inauguration program at Chinmaya Mission Chicago, a Hindu school and worship center near Grayslake. Gilber R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Devi Sudha Gaddam, left, prays with her son, Srihari, and husband, Sudarshan Gaddam, during the inauguration program at Chinmaya Mission Chicago in Grayslake.

    Devi Sudha Gaddam, left, prays with her son, Srihari, and husband, Sudarshan Gaddam, during the inauguration program at Chinmaya Mission Chicago in Grayslake. Gilber R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Published: 12/2/2007 11:41 PM

Since 1999, members of Chinmaya Mission Chicago have worshipped in civic centers and schools, which made this weekend's opening of the group's new center feel more like a homecoming than an open house.

"This is how it feels when you buy a new home," said Indu Sriram, of Buffalo Grove. "Having this gives us a sense of belonging. It is a place where you can nourish your own values. I feel very good because of it."

The Chinmaya Mission Chicago unveiled its newest center, Yamunotri, this weekend.

Located on seven acres at 30877 N. Fairfield Road in unincorporated Lake County, Yamunotri is a spiritual organization dedicated to bringing maximum happiness to maximum people for the maximum time, said Yamunotri member Deepak Mansukhani.

The new religious school and shrine, which is named after one of the four sacred places in India, will serve more than 200 suburban families.

Chinmaya Mission is an international spiritual organization that teaches the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta and its application to modern life.

Mansukhani likened the practice to Christian Bible study groups.

Chinmaya Mission has more than 300 religious education centers in the world and more than 40 in the United States.

Yamunotri is the second center in Illinois, with the other in Hinsdale. Before the Lake County center opened, the group met at the Libertyville Civic Center, then Fairhaven School and West Oak Middle School, both in Mundelein.

Padmaja Sanaka of Buffalo Grove and her children, Harsha, 7, and Saranya, 5, attended the festivities Sunday, which included traditional Indian food and a cultural program.

While Harsha preferred the center's basement, where he and other children could run around, Sanaka was happy to have a place for her children to learn about their culture.

"Having this place is like having our own home," Sanaka said, echoing the sentiments of many Hindus Sunday. "We can have functions where whenever we want. And I can keep my children attached to the Hindu culture."