Short Report on Shyama Puja

A Short Report

Sri Sri Kali Puja cum Diwali was celebrated with due solemnity at Nivedita House on Sunday, 27th October 2019. 92 people attended the function which began with Sri Ramakrishna Puja followed by Sri Kali Puja. Mother Kali was worshipped with 16 items (Shodasopachar puja).

It was appreciated that during Puja time, the assembled devotees maintained silence and focussed on Puja. Thereafter, the vesper service began and after a short break, Swami Vimokshananda gave a Talk on the Significance of the Kali Puja and Mother Kali’s iconography. During the Puja time, the children were taken to the adjacent Library Room where they were engaged in colouring activities.

Everyone who put his/her time, money and efforts in meeting the deadline for the Puja and assisting the performance of Sri Kali Puja, felt blessed. The Eire Vedanta Society offers deep appreciation and prayers for the well being of all.

It was indeed a joyous occasion! Special thanks to the children whose presence added to the joy! Prasad was distributed to all at the close of the function. This occasion was dedicated to Sister Nivedita whose birthday was on 28th Oct 2019.

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A few snaps of the event are given below in a slideshow. For full view of all photos please visit this link page.

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“Deepavali” – Is Kali black?

“Deepavali” – Is Kali black?
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On Sunday, the 4th November 2018, brother monk Swami Shantatmananda requested me to deliver a Talk on the “Deepavali” Festival. It was held at the Sarada Auditorium. Deepavali is not a stand alone Festival as it is preceded by two other holy occasions and followed by another two holy occasions, thus can be in effect it is a Five-day Festival! I gave a synopsis of these five days’ occasions and went into introspective mode of discussing whether these five days can be imagined as linear progress in material and mental spheres of the human soul. While bringing up the topic of Kali Puja that is widely observed in the eastern parts of India on the Deepavali amavasya night, obviously the discussion veered round to a point of view on the subject of Mother Kali and the concept behind Her worship…
This lecture can be heard here:

A few snaps of that evening below:

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The Darknight Diwali Light

Hearty, Happy Diwali Greetings to every dear reader-devotee! May this Diwali lighten up your life, may it lighten down your burden and may it enlighten your intellect and lead you from dark alleys to Lighted path!

This is a repeat Post originally published in this blog on 26th October 2011.

 

Five-day Festival

Our world today is at the crossroads. While charity to help the poor and needy is delightfully increasing, it is disconcerting to see the rise of violence – domestic or national, crime, obscenity, corruption and other expressions of ill-gotten wealth. Serious people devoted to God and godly means of living are indeed worrying about the future prospects of their children. Is there, among the gloomy cloudiness, any shiny ray of hope?

It is in this context that the various celebrations that have come to us from time immemorial from the spiritual land of Bharat hold the clue. One of the most loved celebration of all the Hindus the world over, is the Festival of Lights – Diwali, also called Deepavali.

Sri Rama with Sita and Lakhshmana returning to Ayodhya by pushpak-vimaan

Diwali signifies lighting of lamps in every household on the Amavashya night that follows the bright fortnight after Vijaya Dashmi. No doubt this occasion marks joy and merriment. On the Diwali night, rows of lamps decorate the houses and presents are exchanged. Diwali, in the north of India, is associated with the coronation of Bhagawan Sri Rama when he returned to Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh) by pushpak-vimaan after vanquishing the demon King of Ceylon, Ravana on the day of Dasshera. Sri Ram had been in exile for fourteen years and the people were pleased to see and welcome back him with rows of lit lamps.

This festival of five days gives us, Hindus, an opportunity to go beyond all external extravaganza. First day marks Dhanteras meaning the thirteenth day of wealth.  It is also called Dhanwantari Triodashi indicating the adoration of Dhanwantari. He is the God of Medicine for the devatas and originator of Ayurveda science. The importance of keeping one’s physique in a healthy way cannot be over stated. As the ancient Sanskrit dictum says, “shareeram aadyam khalu dharma saadhanam” – body is the best means for practising dharma, taking steps to improve one’s health becomes mandatory.

Sri Krishna releasing 16 000 princesses from prison…

From here, with strong body, one has to ascend to the state of strong mind. Thus the second day, called naraka chaturdashi, is the fourteenth day signifying release of 16,000 princesses from prison by Sri Krishna. Bhagawan Sri Krishna encountered the demon Narakasura and killed him after granting his wish that on his death day people must celebrate with lighting of diya (lamps) in rows, taking oil bath, distributing sweet meats and burning firecrackers. We all do the latter part but do not pay attention in removing the darkness that has come to reside in our hearts! As Swami Vivekananda says, darkness in a sealed room over one thousand years will instantly vanish the moment a matchstick is lit. Knowledge of God is light. The ignorance  inside is darkness – a prison. 16,000 women are none but our 16,000 nadis to be liberated from impurity.

If body and mind are kept free from impurities, then only this life can be truly enjoyed. As the Isha Upanishad says “ tena tyaktena bhunjeetaah” – this life can be enjoyed when detachment comes. The mind searches for the purpose of life and it tries to fix the goal. Lakshmi word comes from lakshya meaning goal. Thus the third day which is the most important day of the five days of festival is spent in the worship of Goddess Lakshmi whose dazzling luminosity is represented by rows of lamps. What is the ultimate goal of life? Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna clearly spells out the purpose of human birth. He says that a man is born in vain who inspite of having a human body, does not attempt to realise God! In eastern parts of Bharat, Goddess Kaali is worshipped. She is evidently invoked in order that our rakta (blood-attachment) is dried up (swallowed) and our munda (ego-head) can be cut asunder by Her grace.

Sri Krishna holding mount Govardhan – painting of Bikaner School of Art – Circa 1690

When God becomes the focus, all obstructions, sufferings, troubles come to an end. Did He not assure in Gita that His devotee is never destroyed? – na me bhaktah pranashyati. Thus the fourth day is important milestone in the spiritual development of a sadhaka when he/she is rest assured of the protection of the Lord. This day is remembered as Govardhanpuja signifying how Bhagawan Sri Krishna lifted with his small finger the massive Govardhan mountain in order to protect his people from the deluge of rain.

Progress in spiritual life has some definite signs. One of them is the cheerful attitude with which one serves all brothers and sisters. The amity that is brought forth among the sisters and brothers is practised on the final fifth day as bhaidhuj. As per puranas Yama, the Lord of Death has assured that he would not bother those mortals who spread the message of love to their sisters. A perfect harmony leads to moksha, the ultimate liberation.

Thus this ‘Five-day Festival’ traces the spiritual expansion of human growth culminating in the gaining of knowledge of God. It offers an opportunity to dive deep into one’s heart and search for all types of demonic qualities residing inside. Thus, the need is felt to clear the darkness from the heart. To dispel away the internal darkness we have to light the lamp of knowledge. When a lamp is lit on Diwali, just pray to your chosen ideal that the darkness of ignorance be removed from your heart.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagawan Sri Krishna says that out of compassion for the devotees, He, residing within their hearts, certainly destroys the darkness born of ignorance with the radiant lamp of knowledge. (Ch X.11). Hence, while celebrating Diwali, let us pray to the Divinity (in whatever form one may believe in) to bestow the right knowledge by which we can lead a peaceful and prosperous life with service to the poor and needy.

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A Time to get Together!

My hearty greetings to all the devotees, friends and admirers in Singapore and all over the world! My maiden Diwali night is here in Singapore! What a joyous day to worship Mother Kali in all Her glory! 

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e-Satsang thru Blogging

WordPress provides statistics for Blogs hosted by them. Generally I am not a frequent visitor to statistics page to see how my Blog is fairing in the cyberspace. Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.16.53 AMToday on the eve of Diwali just I was curious and saw the results: The number of Visitors has been steadily rising. Each visitor has been hitting the pages 10 to 12 times! The cumulative hits from the beginning as on today stands at over 219,000 !!

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.17.47 AMRegarding the maximum number of readers of this Blog, the majority still is coming from USA followed by India and then by South Africa. Most Singaporean devotees till recently did not know that I have a Blog and hence slow in picking it up. Many of them told me that they never had any inkling that I wrote a Blog! “A Blog from a monk!” was a usual surprise exclamation when they come to know of it! The devotees of other parts of world who have been frequenting this Blog are well familiar with this e-Satsang. That this Blog has been a source of joy to many a reader can be understood from the sincere comments they provide. Some are wont not to write; nonetheless they communicate either though email or cell phone and acknowledge their happiness. There are so far more than 1990 comments for 200 Posts. Perhaps the e-Satsang is still to catch up here!

Nightly Nostalgia 

On this day when I reviewed my Diwali experiences in the nearly last eight years of my stay in South Africa, I did become a little nostalgic! I wrote four posts in this Blog earlier about my Diwali days in SA. I thought that like me those devotees who were all associated with my travel to many parts of SA celebrating Diwali and who were with me may also experience nostalgia by re-reading those posts. And to all those new comers to this Blog, I do think that these posts would make interesting reading!

Focus on Four Posts

Diwali is a celebration of Lights. Staying in a comfort zone we thank God for providing prosperity. But should it end there? Should we not take it a Day to Light up another life? This question was discussed here in 2008 in this post.

Escourt Hindu public conduct Diwali Festival every year. This post appearing in 2010, details how the people of Escourt celebrated in a grand way when I was invited to be the Chief Guest in their celebration!

Diwali is a Five-day festival for Hindus. What did our sages earmarked each day to a particular event of the festival? Does this signify five levels of progress in one’s spiritual Life? An introspective peep into the rationality of five-day Festival is made in this post appearing in 2011.

Diwali nights are not dark nights. In worship the dark Kali is invoked though. Lamps of lights are lit. What do they signify? Who lights the lamp of knowledge inside us? And what is that darkness that is destroyed? This is discussed in this post written in 2013.

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Aum Sri Ramakrishnarpanamastu !