Quinn proclaims Swami Vivekananda Day in Illinois

Lamp Lighting at Chicago Art Institute where Swami Vivekananda delivered the historic address
Lamp Lighting at Chicago Art Institute where Swami Vivekananda delivered the historic address

CHICAGO: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proclaimed Saturday September 28 as Swami Vivekananda Day in Illinois to mark the celebration of 150th birth anniversary of this great spiritual leader from India who came, who saw and who conquered America a century ago.

The Proclamation that acknowledged Swami Vivekananda as a great scholar and a person committed to making the world a better place to live and creating a world without borders, was a great morale booster for the State-wide celebrations of his birth anniversary. He the taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance of all religions as true. This stands in sharp contrast to the present day intolerance and killings of innocent people in name of religion.

The Proclamation also stands in sharp contrast with the intolerance displayed by a group of people who allegedly sought to torpedo the Chicago celebrations by hook or crook and means at their command.

It is alleged that efforts were made by an interested group to derail Baba Ramdev’s coming to Chicago through subtle maneuvering that would either deny or delay his arrival to Chicago via London. He was delayed for nearly nine hours at the airport before clearance was given thru intervention by an MP in UK Parliament.

The huge delay, it is reported, is triggered by a sort of “Red Alert” that is usually marked for the person with terrorist connections or links. In a talk to this paper, Baba said that he repeatedly made it clear to the Immigration authorities that he had nothing to hide nor was he carrying anything that could remotely get connected to terrorism. He had nothing but a Jhola and his Langoti.
In USA, nothing untoward happened although a smear campaign was unleashed that sought to link Swami’s Birth anniversary celebration with one religion or with one organization that had religious affiliation. In fact, this was not true as two dozen organizations pooled their resources together to host the celebrations.

The members of the Indian community were also surprised and piqued that Indian Consul General, who had earlier promised to attend the celebrations at Meadows Club on Friday September 28, did not show up. This became a talk of the town as it was not easily explicable

Talking to a correspondent, CG Dr Ausuf Sayeed sought to explain this away by saying that a visit of two Federal Ministers upset the applecart. When pointed out that the visits of Ministers or delegations are planned in advance and are not an eleventh hour affair, he said that this time the notice was sudden. Besides, participation by an Indian political figure gave a different color to the meet and hence, he chose to stay out.

To a question if deputing one of the Consuls would not have been appropriate, he said that nobody from the organizing group sought or suggested it. Nand Kapoor, a former president of AIA, said that the London episode and CG’s absence at the main event are indeed disturbing and need to be pursued.

Meanwhile, the two days celebrations – September 28 at Meadows Club and the other on September 29 at Art Institute of Chicago and later on at Bartlett Jain temple – turned out to be a huge success with a sizeable participation from first and second generation Indian Americans. The event at Meadows club attracted over 500 participants while that at Bartlett (which was an all day affair) had an array of speakers from different organizations – social and religious who wholeheartedly subscribed to the theme of World Without Borders. The attendance was over 700 people. Even the lamp lighting ceremony at Chicago Art Institute early in the morning was attended by 250 plus saints from across India and local elites.

The Chicago Art Institute event had special significance in that it was in the month of September 130 years ago that Swami Vivekananda preached universal brotherhood and Vasudha Aive Kutumbak philosophy by addressing the huge gathering with a novel and unique salutation ‘My Brothers and Sisters of America.’ The event was live broadcast on Aaj Tak, Z TV, TV Asia and a few other leading channels.

It was done for the first time and the credit should go to the organizing team led by Dr S Sheth, Harendra Mangrola, Vinesh Virani, Vandana Jhingan, J Dibvenkar, Nirav Patel and others. All of them however acknowledged the “untiring efforts by Art Institute officials like Robert Hudson and one of his colleagues Kevin Lunt. More news and event details would be run in the next week issue of
India Post.

Surendra Ullal & Ramesh Soparawala

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