Religious festivals

This month we celebrate Krishna Jayanti, Lord Krishna’s birthday. Here is a short story told by Swamiji about the relationship between Lord Krishna as the guru and his disciple, Arjuna… “Lord Krishna taught Sanatana Dharma to Arjuna in a beautiful …

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Guru Poornima is a day to remember the saints, sages, avatars and spiritual masters who guide us on the spiritual path. It is a day to think deeply of our Guru and his teachings and to decide to follow them. …

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From March 2 to 4 a Chandi homam will be conducted in Sri Premananda Ashram. A Chandi homam is a sacred fire ritual for Goddess Chandi.
It’s considered the ultimate homam for Devi, the universal Divine Mother. This Chandi homam will be performed specifically to benefit Mother Earth. Swamiji said Mother Earth is very unbalanced now due to the selfishness of human beings who have depleted the Earth’s resources for their own personal gain. By conducting this yagam we hope to enforce within us the wisdom, love, compassion and courage necessary to take care of our precious and holy planet so that we can help restore balance and harmony…

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As always, Mahashivaratri will be celebrated in a grand way in Sri Premananda Ashram in 2019. At the same time, this year, there will be a conference and a special sacred fire ritual…

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During this Navaratri I advise you to walk barefoot in the Ashram. This is because we are doing poojas for Mother Earth and it is why we sow the nine grains in the soil. The nine grains are called navadaniyam. Each grain is a different kind of Shakti. These nine shaktis (energies) are now inside the nine kumbhams that we have set upon the blessed earth. The energies of the divine rivers are certainly in these kumbhams. You will realize this on the last day of the festival. When you make the kumbhams I also give them a spiritual vibration…

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Lord Buddha said,

“Don’t worship me – the world inside me will protect you. Realize the Truth.” –  Swami Premananda

On the full moon day in May we celebrate the birth, enlightenment and samadhi of Lord Buddha. The prince Gautama who became the Buddha gave up all his unimaginable privilege, wealth and worldly power to dedicate himself totally to the spiritual path. He meditated with immense sincerity and concentration during seven years; at the end of this intense sadhana he gained enlightenment. He then left the forest and started to teach others how to develop themselves spiritually and reach the same, blissful stage that he had attained.

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Mahadeva (the Great God), Paramatma (the one unbounded universal Self), pure bliss, pure love, the first yogi, the first guru, That which is not – Shiva is all of these, and ‘The Great Night of Shiva’, Mahashivaratri, is one of the most important spiritual observances in Hinduism, a celebration which occurs once a year on the 14th day of the Hindu month of Magha (in February-March), just before the new moon. Why on this date and why is it so significant? At this exact time the planetary influences or forces of nature are such that they offer us the opportunity to make the very best use of our natural energies to merge with the Divine, with Shiva, and to receive his grace.

The scriptures, and indeed Swamiji, encourage devotees to observe Mahashivaratri by fasting and staying awake all night while keeping our thoughts continuously on Lord Shiva, and engaging ourselves in various spiritual practices. In the Ashram those practices include meditation, abhishekams, chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, singing devotional songs, as well as taking part in or watching devotional dramas, dance and musical performances.

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In Sanskrit nava means nine and ratri means night (just as we have Shivaratri – the night of Shiva) and so, according to tradition, during this festival consecrated to the Divine Mother, we perform abhishekams to worship her and to ask for her grace and her blessings. In Sanskrit riti means “to return to the source”. By means of ritual, therefore, we will acquire the capacity of returning to our divine origin, of rediscovering the Divine within ourselves. Swamiji generally encourages spiritual aspirants to perform or attend a pooja regularly, if they like, because during ritual the mind and body are fully absorbed in the worship of the Divine. It is a means of learning to control the mind and it also purifies the mind. At the same time, we absorb much spiritual energy and enjoy the physical and mental connection to the sacred divine.

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When Swamiji was living in the Ashram the devotees at that time were very fortunate to have been able to do Pada Puja to him. Swamiji said, “During a Pada Puja, you are able to touch the master’s feet. Through his grace and extraordinary power he can remove your karma, illnesses and difficulties that would have affected you for many lifetimes. (….) The divine power comes from Mother Earth through the feet of the saint or sadhu…

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The Ashram celebrates Swamiji’s birthday in a very grand way each year. This will be the second year that we will take the statue of Swamiji out of Swamiji’s samadhi temple to go on procession for his birthday. The statue of Swamiji is placed in a chariot and then everyone gathers in a procession to sing bhajans, chant mantras and to walk together through the Ashram. Rose petals, flowers and other pure offerings are made to Swami as we walk…
After the procession is finished, Swamiji is brought back to the temple and a very special milk abhishekam is performed to him…

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