Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Giri Goverdhan Puja and a Mountain of Sweets

Worshiping the  Govardhan Mountain is a tradition started by Lord Krishna himself, 5000 years ago. This festival is celebrated to commemorate the lifting of Govardhan Mountain by Krishna. This is an age old tradition followed in Mathura, Vrindavan and all the Krishna temples across the world  by preparing a replica of the Govardhan mountain with sweets. I visited the local ISKCON temple to take part in the celebrations. The atmosphere was electrifying,jubilant,fun and that of a devotional fervour.All the devotees circumambulated the sacred Govardhana Mountain, offered their obeisances to the Giriraj and other deities in the temple.Of Course, after that there was a sumptuous feast with varieties of items and the sweets from the Govardhan Mountain.Everyone was served with  sweets of their choice.

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne
Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne

Giri Govardhan @ Iskcon Melbourne
The pastime of baby Krishna lifting the Mountain is quite interesting.The demigod Indra forgets that Lord Krishna is the Supreme God, enacting the pastimes of a cowherd boy in Vrindavan.He thought that, Krishna is an ordinary village boy with some mystical powers.Indra on certain occasion became angry that Lord Krishna persuaded his family and the residents of vrindavan to stop worshiping him and instead worship a Mountain called Govardhan.The whole pastime is beautifully described in Srimad Bhagavatam.Lord Krishna decides to teach Indra a lesson and instigates the festival of Indrostav. Indra king of demigods gets furious and out of pride and false prestige he fails to recognise the Supremacy of Lord Krishna, who  at that time was acting as a 7 year old village boy. He sends all the clouds to inundate the whole of Vrindavan with torrents of rain. Seeing this, Lord Krishna lifts  the mountain of Govardhan like a Mushroom from the ground and keeps it floating on his small finger. All the villagers, the cows,calves including the family of Krishna takes refuge under the mountain for seven days. Krishna assures them of safety and for seven day, all the people remained there without any hunger or thirst.Indra finally, realises his mistake and along with Surabhi the celestial Cow and Airavata, comes to Krishna and begs for forgiveness. He bathes Lord Krishna with the Milk from Surabhi Cow and Airavata – Indra’s elephant carrier, who had the water from holy rivers holding in its trunk.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Some thoughts on Celebrating Diwali

Diwali Lamps
Depavali or Diwali signifies the victory of good over, evil. Our scripture say that, this is the day when Lord Rama with Mother Sita, returned to Ayodhya.
Also, this is the day when Lord Krishna with his wife Satyabhama, killed Narakasura, who was a powerful demon.
It is said that in Satya Yuga - the Age of truth, demons lived in different worlds.
In treta Yuga, they lived in the same world as Human beings but, different kingdoms or countries. Lord Rama and Ravana.
In Dwapara Yuga, they started appearing within the same families. Pandavas and Kauravas.
Lo and behold, In Kali Yuga which is now both demons and demigods (qualities) reside within the same person.
Diwali Fireworks
On this auspicious Diwali day, let us drive out the demons hiding within us, with a lamp of purity and knowledge.
Most people clean their houses and remove the clutter from their homes. Let us remove all the dirtiness like, Hatred, intolerance, injustice from our hearts.
Today Most people pray to Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity. Let us not be like Ravana, who wanted to enjoy Sita separately from Lord Rama.
Let us pray to the Supreme Lord to kill all those demons, Ravana, Narakasura,Banasura (a friend of Narakasura)and many more, seen and unseen hiding in our hearts.
Let us all celebrate a wonderful Diwali by cleaning our hearts to get rid of Lust, Anger, Greed and replace them with qualities like, Happiness, joy and love.

asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

Lead me from the asat (unreal) to the sat(real)
Lead me from darkness to light
Lead me from death to immortality
(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad).

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Halloween day - Trick or Treat ?

Halloween Dressup
Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 of October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. Halloween is celebrated as a day to commemorate the ancestors, Saints and Martyrs.These days, Halloween is becoming popular day of celebration not only among kids but also the adults. So, the day usually the houses are decorated with all scary, ghostly things like, Cobwebs, Skeletons, Pumpkin - Jack o Lantern and anything that displays some touch of spirits. So the Halloween parties of kids consists of celebration by dressing up in ghostly cloths, games, food and plenty of lollies. The adult parties are a mix of scary and stylist historic costumes like Prince,Knights and Princesses or just anything that is different. Whatever it is, it looks like the retailers made a good profit, this year by selling all those masks and Costumes, lollies, electric lamps and Pumpkins. I asked few people but, no one seems to know the origins of wearing the costumes originated from. However, I got the information from net that, Halloween thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. Trying to scare ghosts away by becoming more scarier than them.? Yeah, it looks like we are succeeding in this effort. Well, all for fun and some good time. I came across these photos from my friends Facebook page and she graciously agreed for me to post them on my blog.
Halloween Finger food - Short Bread with Almonds
I had some interesting feedback and comments from friends about this celebration. One of my friend complained that, his son is refusing to come for an evening walk with him because, one of the home's in their street had this really, scary decor of Halloween, a dead body hanging with its throat choked by a rope, in their front veranda, almost on the road. Another colleague told me that, he heard few knocks on the door but, did not open the door because, they are some kids coming to ask for Lollies and treat on the Halloween eve. He explained me the concept of treat or trick which is, when people come asking like that you either trick them by giving them a Gift pack with nothing in it or with a note which says, "You are tricked" and the other option is simply give them a treat, a bag of lollies, chocolates etc. He can’t be bothered to do either and that's why he didn’t open the door.
Halloween jack o lantern
Overall, I see the modern day Halloween as another form of Celebration, having fun, doing something differently, get some happiness and joy in the celebration. It is interesting to note that everyone in this world is seeking Happiness. Not even a crazy person wants misery. In his craziness, he does something crazy that he thinks will make him happy. Even people who go into depression, it’s not that they want to be that way. It is not that they don’t want to be happy. It is just that, they are unable to be happy. The holy scripture called Vedanta Sutra 1.1.12(Vedanta means the pinnacle or end of highest knowledge or Sutra simply means Rules) says, 'Ananda Mayo Bhyasat'- by nature the living entities are pleasure seeking. Furthermore, it is said that because we are spiritual beings nothing material can satisfy us. What this means is that, Objects can satisfy the senses of the body. Various emotional gratifications can satisfy the mind. But the heart is yearning, longing, to love and to be loved. So we are trying to find that experience of pleasure in so many ways in this world but, nothing material can actually satisfy the heart.
Personally, I don’t have anything against Halloween parties or all the fun people are having but, the main point the Vedic scriptures point out is that we are trying to find the pleasure in wrong things and wrong places. And, even if they find some happiness, that is for a short period and fleeting and in fact actually can make people frustrated and angry. The final and true place to repose our love or seek the ultimate pleasure is by connecting with that possessor of that unlimited pleasure, the Supreme God. And once someone experiences that supreme love and pleasure from God, they experience the unlimited bliss and happiness which naturally extends to all the living beings who are part and parcel of the supreme lords creation. This is the love, compassion and happiness experienced by so many saints and devotees of the God that we see in different religions of the world.
I Hope you all had a Good Halloween day celebrations..