Archive for November, 2007

  • Yagya fire

    Yagya fire

    One of the great aspects of our visit to Varanasi was that they had us perform the yagyas with the close assistance of the priests.  It certainly made the process more interesting and engaging.  My favorite part was the fire ceremony called havan or homam which took place at the end of the day. During […]

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  • Nothing wrong with a little mud!

    Nothing wrong with a little mud!

    At the end of the day, the last thing we did was to walk around the stala in the traditional gesture of respect (called pradakshina).  And after a day of rain we sank into the mud to our ankles!  But out in the fields as we were, there was something very natural about it and […]

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  • Having fun!

    Having fun!

    At the end of the pujas there was always singing of different mantras; gayatri, etc. The pundits had a lot of fun singing them very loud in a “call and response” style. On one side of the yagya stala the pundits would sing the first two lines, and then the pundits on the other side […]

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  • Long Days!

    Long Days!

    The days ended as it was getting dark with the final offering of light from burning camphor.  We would arrive just at sunrise around 6:45 AM and finish the yagyas around 7:00 PM.  It was a long day, but the pace was relaxed and it never seemed tedious.  There is something about yagyas that makes […]

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  • Chanting Chandi Path

    Chanting Chandi Path

    Red is the color associated with Chandi (Durga) and so when they recited the 700 verse Chandi Path they wore red dhotis.  Chandi Path tells the story of Durga and takes about an hour to recite in its entirety.  I noted that the pundits generally knew the entire text by heart, although they used the […]

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  • Nandi


    Nandi is the bull on which Shiva rides.  There was a very nice Nandi, carved from white marble and beautifully painted.  Every day the Nandi would be decorated with a fresh garland of flowers.

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  • Apples!


    I was delighted to see apples everywhere during the visit to Varanasi.  Apples require cold to grow and it never gets cold enough in the south (Tamil Nadu).  In the Delhi streets there were apple carts everywhere with stack of apples.  There didn’t seem to be very many different varieties but they were sweet and […]

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  • Nyasam – Invoking the deity

    Nyasam – Invoking the deity

    There is a ritual as part of the puja process called nyasam in which different aspect of the deity and the mantras are invoked in different parts of the body; the head, fingers, etc.  Here you see the “kavacha”, the armor of the diety being invoked for protection. It probably seems a little strange but […]

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  • Lunch!


    I always liked these photos of the priests eagerly walking through the gate on their way to lunch after the morning yagya.  Lunch is a happy time after a morning of vedic recitations.

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  • Durga/Chandi


    This is the Durga/Chandi murti that was used for the yagya series .   It sat nestled in fresh flowers the entire time.  The murti itself is about 1 inch tall and is made of solid gold making quite heavy for its size.  There was something very charming about it particularly because the priests treated […]

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