Merudanda Ashram celebrated Navarathri 2014 with love, joy, playfulness and lots of dedication to the Holy Mother and our loving GuruJi Shree Mohanji. This navarathi had everything; miracles, Mohanji listening to our inner most desires and fulfilling it, feeling the presence of our GuruJi at all times and offering very rare and special pujas (ceremonies or rituals). The festivals kicked off with worshiping Mohanji and invoking our Divine Mother Bagalamukhi. Every day we offered sahasranam (1000 names of the deity) and yantra (geometrical form representing the deity) puja to the Holy Mother.
But the highlight must have been the Durga Puja on Sunday. Abhishek and his wife, as well as my parents drove down to Durban that weekend and without knowing about the prayer, were drawn to the temple that weekend. It was a lot of hard work preparing all the items for the puja, and I’m sure many people got tired with how meticulously I like everything to be prepared. A puja is not just sitting there when the mantras are being said. A puja is getting everything ready the day before, cleaning the temple, cooking parsad (food offered to deity, Guru or God, before being consumed) cleaning yourself before you pray, dressing up… Everything… It is a mindset that you cultivate during that time. Everything was checked and double checked the night before. Garlands for the deities were made and tried on so that they fit perfectly. All that we can do must be done, and the rest is left up to the divine.
The puja started with offerings to the principle deity of the temple, our Guru Mohanji. We then invoked Mother Lalita Tripurasundari into a kalsa (water pot covered with coconut and worshiped as the deity) and began worshiping her. There was such a divine feeling in the air. Peace and love seemed to fill every cell of our bodies. The energy flowed form Mohanji and during the puja many people felt as if Mohanji was walking around and giving everyone shaktipat (energy transfer from the Guru bestowing immense blessing and evolution).
Eventually the time came to offer her a fresh garland of flowers and a garland make out of lime and rudraksha (dried seed of a specific tree which has special significance on the path of Shiva). I happily offered the red, yellow and white garland that we made the night before. To my surprise the garland was small!!!!!! How could this happen? The night before, in front of everyone sitting at the dining room table, I measured the garland against the coconut and it fitted perfectly. It covered the top of the coconut to a good few inches below the coconut. And now it was not even fitting comfortably around the coconut. Did I make a mistake? I then offered the lime garland which was supposed to be very big and was supposed to cover the entire kalsa. That too was small!!! What was going on!!! I looked carefully at the kalsa, and then it dawned on me. As I looked at the coconut I realised that the coconut had grown. As we did the pranapratishta (imbuing of energy and consecration) of the Kalsa the coconut representing Devi, it grew and that is why both the garlands that we measured the night before did not fit.
During this puja every family that attended got the opportunity to do a full Shreechakra Navavarana Pooja as per the Khadgamala vidhi. This is a very sacred secret prayer and everyone enjoyed it so much. There was so much of joy and happiness and this puja immediately brought prosperity to the lives of some devotees. Some devotees reported that their family circumstances improved the next day, some devotees business challenges were solved etc.
During this puja, we also hoisted the flag for the Merudanda Ashram temple. This is the very first time, that I am aware of, that a flag make from rudrakshas were offered. Certainly this is the first in Africa, if not the world. The flag was not completed totally, but we did not want to lose out on this precious time. The flag has three stages representing past, present and future and well as the three gunas (three qualities or constituent energies of existence). So far, 2160 rudrakshas were used to make the jhanda (flag), but more will used to finish it up. The flag consists of six domes, and three conch shells (six more will be added). It stands right in front of the temple and asks as a reminded to centre yourself on your spine. The making of the flag and the emotions that went with it, is a subject of another blog. But I would like to mention that at a time when we felt it might not work out, Mohanji showed his presences and gave a blessing. An Aum sign materialised in water.
Mohanji listens to every prayer of yours, whether you verbalise it or not. Twice he did this for me this Navarathri. The first dealt with a murthi (statue) of Mother Saraswathi. I wanted to get a murthi of Mother Sarashwathi that was silver so that it matched the one we have of Mother Kali. The one currently in the temple is very small and old. But it was too expensive for me to afford. Many times I saw the murthis at a prayer shop and each time I sadly put it down after looking at the price tag. This Navarathri I just surrendered it to Mohanji. While walking in the same prayer shop I had been to many many many times, I was talking to him. I said that I would like a Mother Saraswathi for the Ashram this navarathiri but I can only spend a certain amount of money. I told him that I can only tell him what I would like, and that he knows best. I reluctantly went passed where the murthis are kept, and suddenly my eyes spotted the Mother Saraswathi that I always liked. BUT, this time there was a mistake on ONE of the murthis. It was marked down to less than half the price. EXACTLY the amount I had said I have to spend on the deity. Even the staff at the shop were supprised. They double checked the price bar-code, and it went through the till. We all looked at each other and I had a broad smile, knowing that this “mistake” was the doing of Mohanji.
The second wish I had was to get a small granite janda that I have seen is so many temples in Durban. It’s a smaller version of the janda that is usually kept between the flag and the main deity. I knew I could not order one from india because the Murthis we ordered were already on their way, and it would be too expensive to ship it alone. I admit I was sad and I felt disappointed that I let Mohanji down and I should have been more aware. A few days later I get a call from one whom I lovingly call “Uncle Yogi” and he told me that one deity we had ordered from India is here. Of course I rushed over and picked the deity up and I see this small janda in the box!!! It must of course be my friends’ who had also sent some things down. I felt even more disappoint in myself. But after speaking to him, he said that it was not his!!!! The person that carved the murthi added it to the box!!!! Can you believe it!! Mohanji does it again. He inspired the carver to give it to us for free and he did not even tell us that he added this to the box. I was so happy. My Joy knew no bounds.
This are some of the experiences we had during Navarathri 2014. I hope you enjoyed the writeup and that you will join us at Merudanda Ashram for the other functions planned for this year.
Written by Yashik Singh