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Glorious 25 Years of Arya Samaj Houston
by Acharya Harish Chandra, Ved Ratna

Arya Samaj is a worldwide phenomenon since it was founded by Maharshi Dayanand in 1875 - the first one in Mumbai. It has spread out as a wildfire wherever Indians went and also opened newer sectors of operation besides patriotic fervor, social reforms and eradication of superstitions. Education and service to the humankind continue to be its two wheels of dynamism. Education is imparted via classical gurukuls and modern schools - the DAV has become a well known brand.

Arya Samaj Houston celebrated its Silver Jubilee in the weekend of 24-25 September. It is deeply involved in all such endeavors. Its flagship is DAV Sanskriti School founded a couple of years after its own founding in July 1991. Not waiting for long, it took the bold courageous step to run the only Vedic elementary school in North America - the DAV Montessori School, to impart vedic values in early childhood. Its involvement in the orphanages at Gujarat and Pondicherry is almost as if the Arya Samaj Houston is its founder.

The 25th Anniversary was celebrated in three parts guided by its own principle that it works for the society's physical, spiritual and social progress - sharirik, aatmik aur samajik unnati. Saturday morning was devoted to a health fair after 5 km walk by 100+ young and old, men and women, including some elderly walking with a stick. Prominent doctors and health associates came together to test health parameters and consult privately. Quest Labs provided free blood testing services, as well as Dr. Suneja provided EKG and consultation to a number of attendees. Two topics for in-depth talks by leading doctors were the most relevant for the Indian population - heart disease and diabetes. The Q&A became so absorbing that the emcee had a difficult time managing the sessions. As usual and true to the Indian culture, Yoga and meditation were keenly practiced as the prevention measures.

Saturday evening witnessed the presentations by the 3-9 year kids of the DAV Montessori School. It was amazing to hear their perfect recitation of the Vedic mantras that could match any Gurukul in India. Their music and dance performances drew applause and appreciation for the simple reason that they hardly had time to practice since the school reopened after the summer break. A special DVD was premiered narrating the 25 year story of the Arya Samaj Houston. Dev Mahajan was humble enough in his characteristic style to dedicate the success story to Arya Samaj team of dedicated volunteers and their team spirit. The Honorable Mayor of Houston had declared the day as the Arya Samaj Greater Houston Day in recognition of the multi faceted contributions to the Houston ‎community including refugees help, meals on wheels, food bank, etc. His proclamation received huge applause.

The next morning was showcased by the DAV Sanskriti School and was a fitting tribute to Maharshi Dayanand from beginning to the end. The middle portion was another climax when Ms. Renu Khator, the Chancellor of the University of Houston, reminisced her schooling in an Arya Samaj school in Farrukhabad, UP. She shared her secret of success: 1) her association with Arya Samaj helped her to develop a belief system that she uses as anchor whenever she faces storms, and 2) she advised to maintain humility as you climb up the success stairs. The last song by 100+ kids in unison - Dhanya hai ‎Tumko Aie Rishi - mesmerised one and the all. It was a memorable weekend for 250+ kids, their parents, spectators and volunteers.