Vastu Puja 2012

Vastu, the protector of the house, embossed on a metal sheet, is then laid in a certain part of the house, out of sight but omnipresent.

Vastu, the protector of the house, embossed on a metal sheet, is then laid in a certain part of the house, out of sight but omnipresent.

 

Prayer or Pooja room – Vastu blessing

One of the most important areas in many homes is a zone of tranquility, a prayer or meditation area.

Vastu in Sanskrit means nature, a surrounding or environment. The word “vastuu” came from Vasthu, denoting anything existing such as house, shelter building etc. Shastra in Sanskrit means systems. Vastu shastra is an ancient art and science containing principles and practices of constructing buildings which ensures a harmonious balance between man and nature and brings happiness, health, wealth and prosperity.

According to the philosophy of Vastu, the north-east corner zone is best suitable for the prayer room or home temple. This area is considered to be the best for lifting one’s mind and heart to God.

Many families will place a small gold or silver token under the floor or tile of the furthermost north-east corner of the home to further protect the home and its inhabitants from imbalance and negativity.

Our family recently held a Vastu puja in our home. We had a tile person come in to cut a piece of tile out of a section of our flooring in which no one would tread. It’s important that this area is not a “used” area or that it receives any foot traffic. It also must be away from the bathroom and kitchen stove as well as being in the most northeast corner of the home.

We used a small gold token like the one you see above. It was placed in this hole during our puja. Afterwards, it was sealed again by the tile worker. The token has two sides…the side with God on it must be placed face down as he will hold the responsibilities of our home on his shoulders. His head must face northeast so that he can draw power from this and let it radiate throughout our home.

At the beginning of the puja, we must enter the home with our right foot. The lady of the home will use a beetle leaf and blessed water to sprinkle about the home. Each room must be attended to. The Pundit will recite the proper schlock’s and mantra’s during this time. This welcomes God into our home.

The puja itself is anywhere from 1 to 2 hours long. Ours lasted about 1 hour and 40 minutes. We must sit before a fire and do the necessary prayers to complete the puja. A Pundit guided us during our puja and chanted the proper schlock’s whilst describing the meaning for each with regards to this particular puja.

Most families will do this puja upon taking possession of a new home, but my DH and I have been so busy these past three years we have never had the opportunity to attend to it.

Now, with our families blessing and presence it has been done and we are feeling relieved and happy.

Since I try to keep this blog private as much as possible, I cannot show any of our Puja function pictures (we’re in all of them!!!) but I did find this lovely slide show from the Toronto Star!

You can also find it here: http://www.thestar.com/photoplayer/1242537

Does your family follow Vastu? If so, when did you do it and what were your experiences?

 

© 2012 Gori Rajkumari

 

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Diwali 2012!

Happy Diwali 2012

Happy Diwali 2012

Popularly known as the “festival of lights,” Diwali is primarily a five day Hindu festival  which falls between mid-October and mid-November.

For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.

The name “Diwali” translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small decorated, clay lamps called “Diya” which are filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.  These lamps are kept on during the night and one’s house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome.

Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits, although many now are beginning to realize the deep environmental impact that the firecrackers have and instead chose to only string lights and more diya’s.

During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

This year, my DH and I spent Diwali with family outside of Pune. We stayed with my SIL and her family. Aai, Baba and a few cousins also came for the celebrations.

It was a wonderful time, full of good fun, amazing food and happy laughter all throughout the house. SIL’s children are getting bigger and seem to be more fun each time we see them.

Aai and SIL joined in Diwali celebrations by being a part of SIL’s Society functions and competitions. They cooked and cooked and we tasted and tasted! Finally it was decided to go with one sweet and one snack. The snack was Kothimbir Vadi and let me tell you…if you’ve never had it…run (don’t walk) to the nearest place and GET IT! It probably won’t be as good as Aai’s and SIL’s but it will still be worth running out for!

Kothimbir is Marathi for Cilantro. This nifty little snack is basically made with fresh cilantro that has been chopped finely and then fried with masala’s, coconut and raisins and then placed onto besan masala flat bread, wrapped and deep fried. YUM!

Below is a representation that looks similar but if I showed you Aai/SIL’s Vadi…I’d have to…well you know. 😉

Kothimbir_vadi

NOT Aai/SIL’s Vadi…but close.

Aai and SIL won all their entered competitions with first place! We were so proud!

We also had a lovely family puja where everyone dressed up in their finest and newest clothing. Below is a close up of Aai and my sari…we wore the same color/fashion sari this year and didn’t even know it!

Our Sari's! I'm on the left, Aai on the right.

Our Sari’s! I’m on the left, Aai on the right.

Afterwards my DH and his brother and his children went out to light the crackers. I went to take some pictures and the one I used above it just one of many I took.

My SIL and cousins went door to door to distribute sweets and snacks. Aai and I stayed to receive the same from friends and neighbors who stopped by. We had enough so that we did not have to cook dinner that night!

After going to bed, the crackers continued on till the early morning. I was expecting to go outside and find huge amounts of paper from burst crackers littering everything like we see every year for a few days in our own Society, but the workers were already outside cleaning these up. When we left from my SIL’s city the day after, the roads were also very clean. Pune has a lot to learn!

So, that was our Diwali this year! How was yours?

© 2012 Gori Rajkumari

Gauri Pooja 2012

 

 

It’s that time of year when Gori and Bear head to Aai and Baba’s house to celebrate Gauri Pooja and Ganesh Chaturthi!

Gori hopes to be back next week with some exciting tales of all the fun that is had!

Till then, learn more about Gauri Pooja here.

© 2012 Gori Rajkumari

Ganpati Bappa Morya!!! Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

 

 

May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all!

May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path!

May He bestow on you all material prosperity as well as liberation!

Happy Easter 2012!

 

Happy Belated Easter to you all!

I’m so sorry this is a day late, but in true Easter fashion, we spent the weekend with friends and family.

We went for a lovely Easter brunch on Saturday with a friend who is in India getting his Visa stamped before heading back to the US and then Sunday we had Easter Dinner with our best friend and neighbor.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed to the civil calendar. So it’s sometimes really hard to guess when Easter is going to be but it generally variates between March 22nd and May 8th.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its place in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are homonymous. Easter customs vary across the world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting (which means greeting someone with “Christ is Risen” and them returning with “Truly, HE is Risen!”), clipping the church (which means that the congregation will hold hands and form a circle around the church to sing hymns, cheer or dance) and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, and are observed by both Christians and non-Christians and are usually viewed as renewal or rebirth.

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So what is Easter?

Simply put, it’s the day that Jesus Christ came back from the dead.

But that’s not the whole story!

It all begins on Good Friday….

Christians believe that Jesus was killed on the cross about 2000 years ago by the Romans in a city called Jerusalem (most of Jerusalem is in the modern Country of Israel). The people who killed him did so because they believed that he was causing trouble for the government, and because he was claiming to be the Messiah. When they crucified him (meaning they nailed him to a cross), they even hung a sign over his head, which said, “King of the Jews.” The day he was crucified is known by Christians as Good Friday.

Christians believe that on the Sunday after Jesus was killed, some of his followers found that his body was no longer in the tomb where he was laid. Later, Jesus is said to have appeared to over 500 people and preached to them. The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus is what Christianity is based on. The resurrection made people believe that Jesus was the powerful Son of God. It is also spoken of as proof that God will judge the world fairly.  Christians believe that God has given Christians “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Christians believe that through faith in God they are spiritually made alive with Jesus so that they may lead a new life.

Courtesy of Wikipedia (http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter)

What Easter means to me is Egg Hunts with my family and Chocolate Bunny’s with their ears bitten off (My Mom never once let us get to those ears first – it became a family tradition) and at my Grandparents house it meant Ham with fresh biscuits and gravy and coleslaw. Another basket full of marshmallows peeps and peanut butter filled chocolate eggs.

My Grandfather would hang packets of Juicy Fruit Gum and little plastic eggs filled with candy on the tree in front of their house. It was lovely to go out with him and get the gum and show him what candy was inside the brightly colored eggs. After he passed, my own parents carried on the tradition at our house.

To me, Easter means being with family, remembering the reason we are all here and beginning anew to do the right things and live the best life possible.

What’s Easter mean to you?

 

©  2012 Gori Rajkumari

Happy Holi and International Women’s Day 2012!

It’s that time of year again! It’s been busy here in GoriRajkumari land with visits from family, an illness and preparations for Holi!

Holi (होली), is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Holi is also known as festival of Colours.

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, is celebrated by Hindu’s throwing scented, colored powder and perfume at each other.

Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). After doing holika dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion.

All of India wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration. Markets are alive with activity as people start making preparations for the festival. Heaps of various hues of gulal and abeer can be seen on the roadside days before the festival. Pichkaris in innovative and modern design too come up every year to lure the children who wish to collect them as Holi memorabilia and of course, to drench everybody in the town.

Women begin making early preparations for the holi festival as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri and papri for the family and for the relatives.

Great excitement can be seen in people on the day following Dhuli, when it’s actually the time to play “colours”. Shops and offices remain closed for the day in most cases, to give people an opportunity to play. Bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air and people take turns in pouring colour water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and throwing water balloons and passers-by. Women and senior citizen form groups called tolis and move in colonies – applying colours and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouth-watering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

This year, we not only get to celebrate Holi, but also International Women’s Day!

Have a GREAT Holi and International Women’s Day!

© GoriRajkumari 2012