A traditional puja to the Feet of the Sat Guru was performed at 10:00 A.M., Sunday, July 27, beginning a week-long gathering of adults and children from all over Hawaii and the North American continent. Ten Namakarana Samskaras (the Hindu Name-Giving Sacrament), two Vivahas (wedding ceremonies), meetings of the Hindu Businessmen's Association, the Hindu Women's Liberation Council, the planting of 40 Cassia trees, sacred to Lord Siva, first airing of the mock up radio program Hinduism Today, Satsangs, upadesha with Gurudeva, and twice daily attendance at pujas to Lord Nataraja, made this a full and meaningful pilgrimage for all.
Saturday the 26th was opening day, with guests arriving for orientation and worship. That evening the first Namakarana Samskara was performed, bringing Shakti Devi Nadesan into the Hindu religion. Shakti's wedding was only two days away and Gurudeva said, smiling, that she had to have her Namakarana first because her husband-to-be-would only marry a Hindu. Sunday was Guru Purnima day, and all were blessed to witness the traditional abhishekam and puja to the Holy Feet of the Sat Guru. Right after the puja Gurudeva presented three new Associate Members of the Church, Dr. Raju, Miss Jagadeswari, and Jagan Iswaran, with a small rudraksha tree to plant just outside the temple doors. It was thought to be a very auspicious coincidence that these Associate Members were here for this holy occasion. No doubt, the planting of this sacred tree marks the beginning of positive growth for the Associate Membership of the Church, bringing together devotees from both the Old and the New Saivite world. The evening of Guru Purnima, two young girls - Dana and Malini Shanmuga, ages 12 and 10 - received their Namakaranas, faithfully and confidently following in their father's footsteps. At Satsang that same night, the Hawaiian Children's Summer Camp put on a delightful play about Lord Muruga's birth and adventures.
The Hindu Businessmen's Association met with Gurudeva on Monday morning to discuss future Church developments. That day, after the Lingam Puja on San Marga, Ravi and Shakti Devi Nadesan received their civil wedding ceremony. Gurudeva blessed them that evening at Satsang in his own way by tying them together with a long flower garland and asking the husband to go sit down saying, "Now we'll all see if she follows him." Tuesday brought further meetings between Gurudeva and the HBA and a powerful Guruparamparai puja that night. The Guruparamparai puja is done in front of the Nataraja Deity, to a black granite Siva Lingam that usually occupies a side shrine. This puja was sponsored by Deva Rajan who sat directly before the Lingam while continuous abhishekam and offerings were made during a full hour of Sanskrit chanting.
The Hindu Women's Liberation Council met with Gurudeva on Wednesday, the 30th of July. Then at noon a magnificent feast was served in the Sun Palace. Rice, five curries and several chutneys, sambar, rasam, papadam and deserts were served to all the guests by the monks who had spent two days preparing the meal. That afternoon 40 Cassia trees, also called the Konrai or Golden Shower, sacred to Lord Siva, were planted along the sides of the San Marga Third World prakaram path to the Swayambhu Kantali Lingam. In future years devotees will complete their pilgrimage with a final approach to Siva beneath a radiant archway of flowing yellow blossoms. Each tree received a short puja and a handful of prasadam was thrown into each hole. The evening's worship brought Namakaranas for Lila Shakti Devi of Santa Barbara, California, and the entire Veylan family of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Aran, Tara Kamala, and their two children Kamala and Saravan.
Thursday morning Gurudeva offered his inimitable upadesha, insights into how to bring the knowledge of concentration and meditation into use for the practical matters of daily life in the world. At 3:00 P.M. Lord Ganapati glistened in white milk abhishekam during a special archana sponsored by the Nandi Devam family, who sought His blessings for the family's move from California to New York City. Evening ceremonies brought Namakaranas for Nandi Deva Sundaram, 10 years old, and Rajadharma Sabanathan, aged 12. On Friday morning Gurudeva had his last meeting with the entire group. He prescribed the orthodox meditation on the Feet of the Sat Guru as necessary to bring about the correct Guru/disciple relationship and to prevent approaching the Guru as a Messiah figure, an unfortunate concept prevalent in the West.
Friday was the last day as many devotees attended final pujas and prepared for departure. All during the day the monastic priests made preparations for an orthodox Hindu wedding, called the Vivaha Samskara, to be held the following night.
On Saturday many devotees left for home. Those who stayed came to the Vivaha that night - the end of a very full and inspiring Guru Purnima week. One couple, Nitya and Amala Nadesan, stayed on the island for a few days, and completed the last of many months of preparations for entering the Hindu religion. On Tuesday night they declared their eternal allegiance to the principles of the Sanatana Dharma, and officially received their names and guardian devas during Namakarana before the temple Deities.
Noteworthy throughout the entire Guru Purnima celebration were the children's classes in the Saivite Catechism. They studied and discussed the twelve beliefs of Saivism, the five activities of Lord Siva, Lord Siva's three aspects, and answers to 64 questions about Saivite Hinduism. To see these devout and knowing youngsters worship so sincerely was truly uplifting to all.
Transcending all these wonderful activities was of course Guru Puja - a most profound and significant event. We have been truly graced by the Deities and by the power of our Guru Paramparai to be able to witness abhishekam and puja to Gurudeva's feet and to offer our humble respects. During this ancient Saiva rite affirming the eternal, paramount importance of the living Sat Guru, our own Gurudeva sat absorbed, deep in the Being of Lord Siva. All those present were profoundly moved, basking in his darshan and pondering within their own hearts the ageless truth that Siva is Jiva - the Self is within man.
Article copyright Himalayan Academy.