On Saturday, August 16, 2014, The Memorial Opera House will be hosting the first United States screening of “The Light”, a movie about Swami Vivekananda’s life. Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk and a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. Swami Vivekananda was not here to convert anyone to Hinduism, but to inspire to be better people no matter what religion they choose to practice. Swami Vivekananda visited America for the first time in 1893 and was a speaker at The Parliament of the World's Religions at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Here, Vivekananda gave a brief speech representing India and Hinduism. On February 27, 1894, Vivekananda visited Valparaiso and gave a speech at the Memorial Opera House. The Valparaiso Messenger published an article on March 1, 1894 about his speech and visit.
Since Valparaiso also had a Normal School, it is possible that the Valparaiso University was instrumental in bringing him to the town for the lecture at the newly built Memorial Opera House. He was greeted by one of the largest audiences ever assembled until that time. The subject of the lecture was, “Customs of India.” The depot next to the train station where Swamiji disembarked was still standing long after, but the depot burned down. The hotel, Franklin House, next to the station, built in 1857 is the second oldest building in town and has survived the test of time. Vivekananda most likely waited for his train in the hotel. (Information from the book, Swami Vivekananda in Chicago, New Findings by Asim Chaudhuri)
Swami Ishatmananda, president of the Vedanta Society of Chicago will inaugurate a plaque commemorating the 120th anniversary of his historic visit to the Memorial Opera House. This plaque will permanently be placed inside the building.
The program starts at 1 p.m. with the plaque ceremony followed by spiritual songs, and refreshments and movie starts at 2 p.m.. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15 per ticket for general seating, $20 per ticket for priority seating, Tickets can be purchased at the door with cash or check or purchased online at www.mangochai.com. If you have any questions, please call Dr. Nitha Fiona Nagubadi at 708-320-9245.