Sri Venkateswara Swami (Balaji) Temple of Greater Chicago (Aurora, Illinois, USA) has planned grand 25th anniversary celebrations from May 29 to June 5, 2011. These will include various utsavams, yagnams, japams, homams, abhishekams, poojas, etc.; music concert, musical opera, fusion dance, contemporary Kuchipudi presentation, folk themed Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam ballets, bhajans, Garbha dance, fusion music, thematic Bharatnatyam, spiritual discourse; inauguration of New Prakaram; and other special events.
Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded efforts of Temple management and Greater Chicago and surrounding area community for reaching this milestone in remarkable service.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this Temple would augment work in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.
Before this Temple was built in 1986, area devotees used to travel about 500 miles to Pittsburgh for darshan of Sri Venkateswara Swami. In 1985, nine families donated 20 acres of land with a farm house in Aurora for the proposed Temple. Padmashri M. Muthiah Sthapathy, a noted expert on temple construction in India, was associated with designing the Temple, blending ancient Shilpa Shastra and modern architectural technology. It has deities of Sri Venkateswara Swami, Sri Maha Lakshmi, Sri Bhoodevi, Sri KanyakaParameswari, Sri Garuda, Sri Siddhi Vinayaka, Sri Lakshmi Varaha Swami, Sri Ayyappa Swami, Sri Anjaneya Swami, Sri Satyanarayana Swami, Sri Siva, Sri Parvathi, Sri Vinayaka, Sri Valli-Subrahmanya-Devasena, Sri Srinivasa Kalyanam & Meenakshi Kalyanam, Dasavataras, Nataraja, and Navagrahas. According to Temple Visitor’s Guide on its website, Ramaraja Bhushanudu Yalavarthi, Harinadha Babu Koneru, and Athimoolam Naidu are Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary respectively.
Temple regularly organizes various religious, cultural, educational, wellness and yoga events and offers various services, including lifetime of monthly Sri Venkateswara Swami abhishekams for $10,000.
Aurora, nicknamed “City of Lights” and settled in 1834, was the first in the United States of America (USA) to use electric lights for publicly lighting the entire city. Motto of Aurora, about 35 miles west of Chicago on Fox River which extends into four counties, is “A City Second to None”. Notable people associated with Aurora include actress Andrea Evans; Pulitzer Prize winning historian Vernon Louis Parrington; author Henry Perez, former Speaker of US House of Representatives Dennis Hastert; javelin thrower Tom Petranoff; various Major League Baseball, National Football League, and National Basketball Association players; etc. Thomas J. Weisner is the Mayor.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents.