Devyuvaaca - The Goddess Said...
 
 
In This Issue:
Holi, Holi, Holi!
Why Donate?
Kali Puja: Devotion to Devi - This Sunday (3/29)!
Special Topic: Women's Mysteries
Our Community Welcomes You
Upcoming Events & Offerings
Mantra of the Month
Mudras: Sacred Gestures
Gratitudes to the Kaula & Community
Contact Info


Holi, Holi, Holi!

This March, on the 11th and 12th, the popular Hindu spring festival known as Holi (the festival of colors) took place in communities around the world. Holi is a festival that almost anyone, regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, can enjoy taking part in, as its current related observances span cultures and factions, particularly in India. The festival is celebrated by throwing packets of colored water and powder at each other (in fact, many Hindus in India purposely wear white to show off their colors).

Holi is usually celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna, which falls in the later part of February or early March. Bonfires known as Holika Dahan (death of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi) are usually lit the day before. The most popular story of the origin of Holi commemorates the spiritual devotion of a young demon named Prahlad. Prahlad was the son of Hiranyakshipu, the king of the demons who was known for asking of the Lord Brahma one single boon: that he neither be killed during day or night, inside the home or outside, not on earth or in sky, neither by a man nor an animal. Since this basically made Hiranyakshipu invincible, he consequently began to attack the heavens and the earth. Prahlad, however, was a devout worshipper of Lord Vishnu. Despite Hiranyakshipu’s attempts to kill his son, Prahlad’s devotion enabled him to remain unharmed. Hiranyakshipu finally ordered his son to sit on a funeral pyre on the lap of his sister Holika, who couldn’t die by fire by virtue of a magic shawl she wore. However, as the fire began to burn, Prahlad prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe; at the same time, Holika’s shawl mysteriously flew off her body. The festival of Holi is in memory of the escape of the young Prahlad from Holika. While Holika was burnt to death, Prahlad, of course, escaped without injuries.

Later, Lord Vishnu came in the form of Narasimha (half-man and half-lion) and killed Hiranyakshipu at dusk (neither day nor night) on the steps of the porch in his home (neither inside nor outside) by restraining him on his lap (neither in the sky nor on the earth) and mauling him to death. Problem solved.

In addition to the many “colorful” rituals associated with Holi, many people mix bhang (prepared from the leaves of the cannabis plant) into their drinks and food, which is also done during Shivaratri. Other interesting rituals abound. For instance, in Barsana, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, women chase men away with sticks. Men sing provocative songs to invite their attention, which allows women to go on the offensive and beat the men with long staves.

Some people believe that the throwing of colored water hails from the god Krishna himself, who is believed to have popularized Holi by playing pranks on the gopis. Another origin story has to do with Kama, the god of love, who was destroyed when he shot his weapon at Lord Shiva to disrupt his long penance. Shiva opened his third eye, reducing Kama’s body to ashes. For the sake of Kama’s wife Rati (the goddess of passion), Shiva agreed to restore Kama, but only as a symbolic force representing emotional and spiritual love rather than physical lust. The Holi bonfire is also believed to be associated with this event, and with the ushering in of love in the spring. (An even earlier interpretation of Holi is that it is a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families.) The literal meaning of Holi is 'burning,' but in many ways, old legends have been trumped by the general idea of the triumph of good over evil, and the beginning of a fresh new season.

Read more about holidays, worship, & ceremonies... >>



Why Donate?


Your contributions make all the difference as we work to keep engaged spirituality and a unique spiritual expression of service viable in the world. At SHARANYA, our Goddess Temple survives because of you, because of your support. For all of the ways in which you love the Divine and make Her manifest, we are deeply grateful.


Thank you for your commitment
to making spirituality
a vehicle for social justice
and life-affirming change.
 
Thank you for helping the spread of
Maa's love in the world. Jai Maa!

Looking forward to seeing you at
a puja, class, or commuity event soon!


* Can I make a donation for Maa's worship if I live outside the Bay Area or can't attend this month?

Jai Maa! Absolutely. Should you wish to contribute to the worship, know that we will call your name into circle so that your intention will be with Maa and held by community in sacred space. We can also mail you a flower from the ceremony to put on your altar if you desire. Just let us know with your donation and be sure to provide a current mailing address. Please contribute what you wish.

* I would like to offer flowers for Maa and Shiva. Can I do that?

That would be wonderful! Whether or not you can attend, offering flowers is a lovely way to share your devotion. Please contribute what you wish.

Donate Now >>



Kali Puja: Devotion to Devi - This Sunday (3/29)!

At SHARANYA, we are dedicated in our worship to Goddess Kali in Her myriad forms, including those as She is expressed through the world's various traditions that honor the Dark Goddess, the one who holds the wisdom of the full spectrum of human beingness.


Ceremony is held in the Sha'can tradition and lead by Rashani (ordained clergy) with help from community. Our puja infuses methods and practices from East and West in order to create a sacred space for worship, deepening, and opening on the path of the bhakta, or devotee of the Divine. Learn more about what our ceremonies are like with this brief introduction.

What to bring... Offerings for the main altar are welcome. It is customary to bring flowers, fruit, wine, vegetarian offerings, or sweets and to refrain from wearing black to our public rituals. If you wish to wear a special color for Kali, we invite you to don red, a color associated with Her power in the phenomenal world as shakti, the activating force and the energy of creation. You are also invited to bring an object you would like to have blessed.

A sliding scale donation of $15-21 is suggested to cover the cost of the space, puja supplies and prasad (blessed food); however, no one is ever turned away for lack of funds, and any donation is graciously accepted--we appreciate so much the offerings you make to support our work and the community.

Note: Pujas are preceded by our teaching circle, Daughters of Kali.

An R.S.V.P. is requested if you would like to participate. All Kali Puja ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m. No one is admitted after 5:45pm. Worship usually ends at 8:00pm and is followed by community time and sharing of prasad. Children are welcome, but no childcare is provided. Cushions and chairs are available (arrangements can be made for wheelchair access - kindly let us know in advance).

New! Temple Etiquette and Good Things to Know for Puja!

If you have been to a puja and wish to tell others about
your experience, we would love to have you share!
Please offer a testimonial here!


Learn more about this and other offerings at our mandir... >>



Special Topic: Women's Mysteries

In many cultures special taboos appear around menstruation and childbirth. Because a woman's cycle is often about the same length as the lunar cycle, special ties are acknowledged between women and the Moon. Because women bleed each month without taking harm, they are believed to have special powers during the bleeding, and the blood itself is powerfully magical. However, this is taken as either a positive or a negative depending on the culture. One of our objectives in working with the Mysteries is to move toward the positive viewpoint, in order to make this a time of increased power and self-healing.

Menstruation and childbirth are sometimes used to define the triple aspect of Goddess and woman as follows:

  • The Maiden is the girl who has just had her first period;
  • The Mother is the bleeding woman who has given birth and/or achieved fulfillment in her chosen career; and
  • The Crone is the woman who has reached menopause.

Read the article >>



Our Community Welcomes You

Come sing and worship with us!

Interested in lending your love of Maa, your creativity, your inspiration to Kali Puja?
Feel free to bring us your ideas and energy. We have many ways for you to become immediately and directly involved in a vibrant and growing spiritual community, and look forward to your unique expression of joy in Her name. We welcome your suggestions too; your experience, expertise, and desire can inform many of the ways we do Her work in the world!

Click here to learn more about joining in the celebration of Her through SHARANYA...and be with us in cyberspace if you're not able to join us in person. Get timely updates, notifications of events, and your mantra of the day by being part of our online world:
 

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And of course, stay in touch with us in all the old-fashioned ways too! Were you forwarded this newsletter by a friend?


Click here to receive your own newsletter! >>



Upcoming Events & Offerings

April

Purnima Satsang (4/9) 7-9pm Full Moon - Evening of dhyana (meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony at SHARANYA's Devi Mandir - our home sanctuary. (Community celebration; extended spiritual family and guests welcome.) RSVP requested.

SHARANYA's Board Meeting (4/10)

Community Meeting (4/13) SHARANYA's organizational gathering, open to everyone, to discuss business, logistics, planning, and fun!

 Yogini Chakra (4/18) (Closed circle)

Amavasya Satsang (4/24) 7-9pm New Moon - Evening of dhyana (meditation), spiritual teachings, and/or ceremony at SHARANYA's Devi Mandir - our home sanctuary. (Community celebration; extended spiritual family and guests welcome.) RSVP requested.

SHARANYA's Kali Puja (4/26) Open to everyone. Come join us in worship of the Divine Mother, Goddess Kali Maa, by all Her names!

And join us in the creation of ritual, art, poetry, and other forms of Magick and inspiration! We look forward to being with you in person, on-line and in spirit throughout the year. May the blessings of Goddess be forever in your heart!


 

Not in the San Francisco Bay Area?

If you are not in the Bay Area or cannot attend events for any reason, please join one of our online communities and participate in learning more about Maa through Kali Vidya: A Wisdom School for Her Mysteries. Kali Vidya is offering a series of classes that you can work through independently or with your current worship circle.

 


Learn more about the tradition that inspires our worship... >>



Mantra of the Month

Known as "The Elevated Chant," this mantra is from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (Chapter 3 - Third Brahmana, Part I). It is used to end our pujas at SHARANYA Mandir, and we chant it three times for auspiciousness.

This is a purifying mantra that invokes the power to help us realize our sankalpa (sacred intention), whether set at the beginning of ritual, or as part of our daily practice...

Listen to the mantra here >>



Mudras: Sacred Gestures

Utilizing a mudra can be one of the most effective ways of promoting health and knowledge in your mind, body, and soul. Each finger of the hand symbolizes each tattva (an element or aspect of reality conceived as an aspect of the Divine), and each mudra connotes the awakening of a particular power or knowledge. Mudras are deeply stabilizing and work to enhance energy levels and can be wonderful tools for remedying external or internal problems.

A mudra is a symbolic or ritual gesture in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Often, when we are working to combat stress or simply calm ourselves, we use mudras in an unconscious way (e.g., meridians). But being intentional about the sorts of mudras we use can be a simple method of directing energy. Many mudras involved the entire body (as in Indian dance), but most are performed with the hands and fingers during meditation.

In Hindu and Buddhist iconography, each mudra has a specific effect on the practitioner. For instance, the Dhyana mudra (meditation mudra) is the quintessential gesture of meditation. The two hands are placed on the lamp, right hand on left with fingers fully stretched and the palms facing upwards, forming a triangle. This mudra is typically used in representations of the Buddha, although it was used long before the Buddha’s time by Hindu yogis.

  • The Kali mudra signifies transformation and can be made by interlacing the middle, ring, and little fingers—with index fingers pointing upward and left thumb crossed over right. Hands should be held in front of your chest. This mudra is said to activate energy in the upper chakras and help break through negative thought patterns.
  • The Shivalingam mudra (sacred creation) is made by placing your left palm up, placing your right fist with thumb extended upwards in your left palm, and pressing your elbows forward. This is an energizing mudra connected to your third chakra (manipura), which is connected to personal power, and is good to use whenever you feel lethargic or disempowered.
  • The Prithivi mudra (earth) is made by touching the tips of your thumb and ring finger together, and extending the index, middle, and little fingers. Rest the back of your hands on your thighs. This mudra balances the energy of your lower abdomen and is good for grounding during stressful times.
  • The Varada mudra (favorable mudra) signifies offering, welcome, charity, compassion, and sincerity. It is used with the left hand for those who devote themselves to human salvation. It can be made with the arm crooked and the palm presented slightly turned up, with the fingers upright or slightly bent.
  • The Vajra mudra (thunder mudra) is the gesture of knowledge and is made by making a fist with the right hand, index extending upward, and making a fist with the left hand, enclosing the index finger of the left hand.
  • The Jnana mudra (mudra of knowledge) is done by touching the tips of the thumb and index together, forming a circle, with the hand held with the palm inward, toward the heart.

It is suggested that when making a mudra, you should exert enough pressure to feel the flow of energy through the nadis (psychic channels) up the arms, but not enough to whiten fingertips. While using a mudra, it is a good idea to keep the position for at least a couple minutes (and ideally, for about 15 minutes). Also, holding the finger positions with both hands at the same time will garner a more powerful effect than doing a mudra with just one hand.

Stay tuned for more on mudras...soon!

Want to know more? Answers to some of your most FAQs... >>



Gratitudes to the Kaula & Community

Blessings for Spring Navaratri!

OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI



 
 

SHARANYA: The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit Devi Mandir (Goddess Temple). All donations are tax-deductible. For more information about upcoming events, please visit www.sharanya.org/calendar/ or email info@sharanya.org. All are welcome!

Jai Maa!

 

SHARANYA: The Maa Batakali Cultural Mission, Inc. • 2063 42nd Avenue • San Francisco • CA • 94116

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