Beliefnet
Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland, Texas, held Athma Shanthi Prarthana, a prayer service, on Sunday, February 2, 2003.

The Mayor of Pearland, the Consul General of India, and Chawla's relatives stand in front of lamps to be lit for each astronaut.





NASA scientist Vasantha Putcha, who worked closely with Kalpana Chawla, speaks at the ceremony.





From left to right, Chawla's father, cousin, and sister.






Chawla's father lights the fourth lamp for his daughter.






Service Program
Provided by Ranjana Narasiman

The service proceedings were lead by Dr. Vaduganathan,Secretary of the temple. Priest Emeritus, Sri.Rajarathna Bhattar recited a sloka (prayer) to beginthe ceremony. Vice Chairman Mr. A.K. Subramanianexplained about the importance of the Athma ShanthiPrarthana and the Chairman of the Advisory Council,Mr. Sam Kannappan spoke next. The Consul General ofIndia, Honorable Skand R. Tayal, highlighted the grief that was personal andthe glory that all human beings shared with theseastronauts. Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, spoke kindwords about the temple's social activities and offeredhis condolences to the family and friends.

Dr. Vasantha Putcha, who knew KC personally and whowas her colleague at NASA, spoke emotionally about KC.KC was a very private and hard-working individual, shesaid. After witnessing the Challenger disaster herselfas a NASA employee, she never thought something likethat would happen again. She never was in any sensesuperstitious, she said, but her right eye wastwitching constantly for the past one week perhapscould be explained. She was looking forward to thedebriefing sessions with Will [McCool] and KC, she said. Shealso mentioned how closely Will and KC worked togetheras a team and how very much KC enjoyed attending herdaughter's dance performance recently. Hindu Priests, Sri. Manicka Bhattar, Sri DoraiswamyBhattar and Sri Tatacharyulu performed the "AthmaSanthi Prarthana" (Prayer for the peace of the souls)by reciting some verses from the Upanishads (a segmentof the Vedas - the scriptural texts of the Hindus).Seven brass lamps were arranged on the stage in frontof the Hindu deity to remember each of the astronauts.KC's father, Mr. Chawla, lighted one of the lamps toremember his daughter. The priests and a fewdignitaries lighted each of the other six lamps.

Toconclude the service, Dr. Arun Mukhopadhyay recited afamous verse from "The Bhagavad Gita" (Song of theLord) in Sanskrit and expounded the meaning of theverse in English. This verse is advice to thedisheartened warrior Arjuna by the Lord Himself askingArjuna to carry on with his duty and not to loseheart, for the soul is eternal and immortal, and cannever be destroyed by the elements. An elder of thecommunity, Mr. V. Arumugam, recited another prayer inTamil from "Periya Puranam." Prayers and time alonecan heal the personal sorrow that the families facetoday. All of us will, forever, remember the gloriesof these seven astronauts.

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