Shiva Yagya – Day 1

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The first day of the Shiva yagya program in Kanchipuram was a great success with the initial pujas and Ganesha Yagya completed as planned.

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There are so many supplies to be delivered.  Above you see our ghee lady who was excited to learn that we will be using $1,000 of ghee over the course of the 11 day program. We asked for a volume discount but she was cheerfully immovable.

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In Jyotish (vedic astrology) there is a discipline called nimitta in which one interprets events in the surroundings as indications of the overall situation. In this case, just was we were beginning the first pujas of the series, we saw this bullock wandering by, then another bull at the end of the street and then a cart go by, all in the space of 10-15 minutes. The priests were quite happy about this as a good nimitta. Since Shiva rides a bull, they felt it was a sign that Shiva was happily attending our yagya.

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The fire pit (homa kund) was decorated.

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The kalasha pots were wound with decorative thread and dots of sandalwood paste.

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Small kalasha pots are located on the homa kund and decorated with coconuts and small fresh flower garlands. There are so many garlands that the whole hall smells of jasmine.

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Special darba grass is used in the yagyas. In this case cut from the banks of the Kauvery River at a specific place where the river flows east.

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Here you can see the plates full of the modaka balls – special sweets that are used in the Ganesha Yagya that starts the series. They will be offered into the yagya fire – 1008 of them. Plus a few left over for us to eat. They are full of roasted coconut.  The priests are starting the yagya fire using the friction of wood turned by drawing the rope back and forth.   They had a lot of fun doing it, arguing good naturedly about the best way to accomplish the task.

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The daily yagya is performed – this is the Rudra Abishekam in which milk is poured over the Shiva lingam.

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Most of the program this month is focused on the fire ritual called havan or homam in which various ingredients are offered into the fire while Rudram (the vedic mantra for Shiva) is chanted 11 times each day. Today, we began at 7:30 AM to 2 PM. These pundits are athletes in their own way. That is a lot of chanting especially since they are singing quite loudly and the room is full of smoke.

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An offering of freshly cooked rice is made into the fire.