Monthly Archives: November 2013

Namaste | What does it mean? | Hindu greeting

President Obama says Namaste

President Obama says Namaste

With all the depths and charms of my mind and all the love and cordiality of my heart, the Divinity in me salutes the Divinity in you.

 NAMASTE is a Hindu tradition that is both a spoken expression (mantra) and a symbolic gesture (mudra). It is used as a salutation when first meeting someone you know or as a valediction when leaving his or her company. The gesture is performed by joining the palms of your hands together with your thumbs close to or touching your forehead or heart, and bowing down to the person you are addressing.

The term, Namaste, is Sanskrit in origin and is actually made up of two separate words: namaha and te. Namaha means I bow down in recognition and reverence. And te means to you. Combined, the term literally means I bow down to you.   However, it is assumed to mean the Divine Spark in me acknowledges and salutes the Divine Spark in you.  When people see each other in this way, they are inspired to treat each other with respect, kindness, and love.  Their disposition becomes one of cooperation and engagement.  And people are motivated to find peaceful solutions to their problems.

donate to badarikashrama

Gratitude | Zig Ziglar quote | Being Thankful will change your life

live in gratitude

Live in gratitude

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  -Zig Ziglar

 When I first finished college the economy was really bad.  Like many students I struggled to get a job and finally landed my “not my dream job” about a month after graduation.  I remember feeling depressed and deflated, but I knew I was lucky to at least have a job.  My commute to work was about an hour so each morning and evening I listened to books on tape (they really were on tape in those days).  My favorite audio books were by Zig Ziglar and Leo Buscalia.  They both made me laugh and both filled my heart with love and hope.   Zig taught me all about business and sales.  Leo taught me all about love and compassion.

I don’t know if Zig said this quote exactly this way back then, but he said something very similar.  And so, because I trusted him, I started a habit of saying three things I am grateful for every morning before I even got out of bed.  Within a week my life changed.  I was happier at work.  The world looked more beautiful.  And within a month I got promoted and got to move back to a city I was very happy to live in.

I was hooked, and the habit stuck…for 20 years now.  What are you grateful for?  Please tell us below.

donate to badarikashrama

Hanuman | The Monkey God – Part 2 of 2

Lord Hanuman, the Monkey God

Lord Hanuman, the Monkey God

 

(Go Back to Part 1)

Hanuman took a huge breath and slowly began to grow bigger and bigger. The heavy ropes that bound him snapped and fell away. And his burning tail grew into an awesome torch, with which he set the Island Kingdom on fire. The structures hissed and cracked as they burnt and fell, and the townsfolk screamed in fear. Satisfied, Hanuman took his leave and returned to the mainland, where Rama and Laxmana had been waiting for him.  He gave them valuable information on Ravana’s forces, and then the army crossed a bridge to Lanka that was made by the monkey leader and master architect called Nala.

During the great Battle of Lanka, Hanuman defeated the Demon Lankini, who was the principal guard of the city of Lanka.  But his greatest feat during the battle was to bring back the herb that cured Lakshman from a fatal wound. He flew all the way to the Himalayas to find it, and was harassed by many demons.  He could not find the herb and finally brought the entire mountain to Lanka.  The herb was found and Lakshman was saved.

After the battle, Rama, Sita, Lakshman, and Hanuman returned to their hometown of Ayodhya and Rama and Sita were crowned King and Queen.  When Rama offered Hanuman any boon he wanted, Hanuman asked to live for as long as men spoke of the deeds of Rama.

- Written by Neelam Wadhwani

Hanuman | The Monkey God – Part 1 of 2

Rama and Hanuman, great friends

Rama and Hanuman, great friends

Hanuman was believed to have been an incarnate of Lord Shiva, one of the three highest gods in Hindu Mythology. As legend has it, Lord Shiva descended on earth as Sri Hanuman to help Prince Rama destroy King Ravana and rid the world of his evil.

In the Ramayana, Sita (Rama’s wife) was abducted by Ravana (the King of Lanka). While Rama and Laxmana were looking for her, they met Hanuman. After ensuring that the princes were who they said they were, Hanuman offered them his help. After consulting with Sugreeva (the King of Monkeys), Hanuman used his supernatural powers and flew above the land in search of Sita.

Hanuman found Sita sitting under the shade of an Ashoka Tree, within the walls of Ravana’s palace. At an opportune moment, Hanuman approached the princess and introduced himself as Rama’s messenger. To prove it, he provided her with her husband’s wedding ring. Convinced, Sita greeted him warmly. Hanuman reassured her and told her that Rama was coming to rescue her soon.

Pleased for having completed his mission, Hanuman turned to leave. But he was spotted by Ravana’s relatives and had to fight the demon Meghnaath, son of Ravana, in the gardens of the palace. He won over Meghnaath but was captured. After being tied up in thick rope, Hanuman was marched to the palace. Ravana was incensed that he couldn’t kill Hanuman without defying the norms of society. So, instead, he wrapped Hanuman’s tail in cloth and set it on fire. By this time, Hanuman had had enough. Out of respect for Rama, he had tried to play by the rules. But no more.

(Go to Part 2)

donate to badarikashrama

 

A poem about Diwali | Deepavali

Christmas isn’t just a day in our family, chosen by Christian clerics of old, to combat pagan traditions of the common folk. It represents a whole season to us, a season full of good tidings and family relations. It begins with the coming of Diwali and ends with the first day of the new year!

Rama's return to his throne

Rama’s return to his throne

Sometime towards the end of September, arrangements begin for a season to remember, To observe the return of a king to his throne, and banish the darkness and sorrow unknown.

 

Diwali lights hung from the rafters

Diwali lights hung from the rafters

The house is cleaned and decorated after, and lights are hung along the outer rafters. Flowers and plants are strewn about, so nothing is left covered without.

 

Diwali Sweets

Diwali Sweets

Tealights and tarts are placed  everywhere. Colorful lanterns are hung with good cheer. Sweets and sauces are cooked with care, in hopes that Prosperity soon will be there.

 

Happy Diwali to All

Happy Diwali to All

Lamps are constructed from water and clay. Filled with the oil of cooking or prayer. Wicks of pure cotton are stretched and twirled, to aid in the magic soon to unfurl.

 

Diwali Lakshmi puja tray

Diwali Lakshmi puja tray

Murtis are polished and dressed anew, in reds and golds of exceptional hue. Silver is polished to a brilliant veneer, and used in the pooja, with all we hold dear.

 

Beautiful Diwali Rangoli depicts an oil lamp

Beautiful Diwali Rangoli depicts an oil lamp

Patterns and paper and petals of red, adorn every doorway and walkway and tread. Circles and angles are precisely aligned, to create a work of rangoli divine!

donate to badarikashrama

What is Diwali | The Five Days of Diwali and what they mean.

Happy Diwali to All

Happy Diwali to All

Diwali is the most joyous time of year for Hindus.  It is celebrated universally, by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, throughout the Indian subcontinent and the world. It is a 5-day event that is celebrated to commemorate the victory of the forces of Good over the forces of Evil.

Day 1: Dhanteras

This day is dedicated to the Goddess of Wealth. On this day, Hindus buy utensils or other objects made of precious metals, for good luck. Businesses owned or operated by Hindus close out their financial records for the year and start anew.

Day 2: Chhoti Diwali

This day is dedicated to the Goddess of Time, Change, and Death. On this day, Hindus indulge in fragrant baths and then dawn new clothes. They share special Diwali foods with family and friends.

Day 3: Diwali

This day is dedicated to the Goddess of Wealth, Properity, and Beauty. On this day, Hindus perform elaborate ceremonies, worshipping the Goddess. Before any such ceremonies, Lord Ganesh is worshipped. Hindus clean their homes thoroughly and decorate them by placing rows of earthen oil lamps everywhere.

Day 4: Padwa/ Govardan Puja

This day is dedicated to Lord Krishna, who saved the world from floods by lifting Mount Govardhana and allowing all the people to take shelter under it. On this day, Hindus cook mountains of food, to represent Mount Govardhana, which are later distributed to devotees and other townspeople.

Day 5: Bhai Duj

This day is dedicated to the relationship in ancient India between brothers and sisters. On this day, sisters pray for the longevity and prosperity of their brothers, and brothers bestow their sisters with gifts and eat a meal together. It is meant to strengthen the ties between brothers and sisters.

donate to badarikashrama

 

 

 

Festival of Lights | Diwali | Deepavali | Everything you needed to know

Beautiful Diwali Lights

Beautiful Diwali Lights

Diwali,

Known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most popular Indian festivals. It is celebrated in India and throughout the world to welcome in the New Year. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu calendar month of Katrika, which falls at the end of October or the beginning of November every year.
The word, Diwali, is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘deepavali’, which means “a row of lights”. This explains why Diwali is often referred to as the Festival of Lights.

The First Diwali
The first Diwali was held to celebrate the return of Lord Rama, his wife, Sita and his brother, Lakshmana, to their kingdom in Ayodhya (India), after 14 years of exile. They had overcome many obstacles and successfully fought many battles. The last, and greatest, of these battles was the one against King Ravana, a powerful adversary of Lord Rama. He had kidnapped Sita, instigating war with his arch enemy. Eventually, Lord Rama won and rescued his dear wife. When they returned to Ayodhya, they were greeted with rows of lights to guide them home. When they got to the Palace, the whole city turned out to greet them. Music and flowers were everywhere. Houses were cleaned, new clothes were made or bought, and hundreds of sweets were prepared. Garlands hung from every balcony, and rows and rows of lights bordered the streets. A city that had gone to sleep over a decade before had been reawakened. This auspicious occasion symbolized the return of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and goodness over evil. Life began to flow again throughout the country, and prosperity returned once again.

Five days of celebration
The festival lasts for five days in many parts of India and can, in fact go on for a lot longer in some places. On the first day (Dhanteras), houses and shops are cleaned, whitewashed and decorated. The second day (known as Naraka Chatrudashi), marks the death of the tyrant king Narakusara who had imprisoned many men, women and daughters of various gods, saints and other holy men in his castle. Lord Krishna killed him, freeing his captives and this date is therefore seen as a day of rejoicing. The third, and most important day is Lakshmi-Puja and is devoted to revering the Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of good luck, wealth and fortune). Hindus believe that on the night of Diwali, the Goddess Lakshmi will visit their home and bless every house that is lit with lights and candles.

The fourth day – called either Padwa or Varshapratipada – is looked upon as the most auspicious day to start any new venture.
The fifth and final day is commonly known as Bhaiya Dooj or the Teeka Ceremony. It is customary for men to visit their sisters’ homes where the sister puts a sacred mark on her brother’s forehead and prays for his long life and prosperity. The brothers give their sisters money and presents in return.

How it is celebrated
The day begins with Lakshmi puja in which the Goddess Lakshmi is thanked for all that she has given in the year gone by. For people with their own businesses, doing a puja in the office is a must as it is considered lucky and auspicious.
After puja, friends and relatives visit to give presents – generally dry fruits and sweet meats. Many families do a puja in the evening as well. This is followed by a display of fireworks and a sumptuous vegetarian dinner. It is an evening where families gather together and celebrate. A number of people host big parties and play cards well into the night as it is one night where even the most conservative Asians condone gambling, as it is considered lucky!
In Hindu custom, light signifies goodness and during Diwali, lights are kept burning throughout the day and into the night to ward off darkness and evil. This is a five days festival; each of the five days in the festival of Diwali is marked with a significant ‘puja’ of a certain God/Goddess.

Sikhs
Sikhs celebrate Diwali to express joy at the return of the sixth Guru to Amritsar in 1620, after his release from Gwalior Jail. Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned him along with 52 Hindu kings. When the Guru was granted freedom, he refused to leave until he had gained the release of the 52 Hindu kings too. Sikhs on this day (which generally falls in November) hold a one-day celebration in the Gurudwara. In the evening, lights are lit in their homes and firework displays are held.

Jains
The Jain communities of India celebrate Diwali as a New Year’s Day. Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, attained his Nirvana on the day of Diwali. His followers celebrate the occasion with a festival of oil lamps, symbolizing their Master’s light of knowledge.

DIWALI Soundbites

Diwali is celebrated for five consecutive days in the Hindu (lunar) month of Ashwayuja, usually around the end of October or the beginning of November. It is one of the most popular festivals in the Hindu calendar, a holiday celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs alike. It is celebrated on a grand scale in almost every region of India, and it is looked upon as the beginning of the Hindu New Year.

 DAY 1 – Dhun Teras (13th Day)
‘Dhun’ means money or wealth. Traditionally people would wash their money on this day. In their homes, people literally wash coins in milk and water and worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It can also be said that to give or distribute money to the poor and needy, is a way of ‘washing your wealth’.
DAY 2 – Kali Chaudas (14th Day)
Some say that those who are into tantra, learn their ‘mantras’ on this day. Alternatively, people offer Nived (food) to the goddess that is local to where they are originally from. This goddess is called their ‘Kul Devi’, in order to cast off evil spirits. Some families also offer food to their forefathers on this day.

DAY 3 – Diwali (15th Day)
Diwali is the last day of the Hindu year and thus also the end of the Hindu financial year. Many businessmen close their account books and do rituals to open their new account books for the next financial year, in order to gain prosperity in the next financial year. In the Ramayana, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana returned to the kingdom of Ayodhya on this day as it was the last day of the last year of their 14 year banishment. As it was so dark, the subjects of the kingdom, lit ‘divas’ (little wicks doused in ghee) to light the path. The lights are seen as a triumph of good over evil, light over dark, happiness (the homecoming) over sadness (the banishment).
DAY 4 – New Year’s Day (1st Day)
The new cycle of days now starts with Bestu Varush or New Year’s Day. Everybody greets each other with good wishes and a happy new year, ‘Saal Mubarak’. The young bow down and touch the feet of their elders to gain blessings. Money or gifts of clothes are also given. At the temples 56 different foods are offered to the deities, this is known as Annakut Darshan, the food is blessed and offered as prashad to the people who come to worship at the temple and to the poor and needy.

DAY 5 – Bhai Bhij or Bhai Duuj (2nd Day)
Sisters call their brothers and his family to their homes for a meal. Brothers normally take a gift or leave money under their plates when they have finished their meal. Traditionally this was so that the brother could check that all was well with his sister in her marital home.

donate to badarikashrama