The first day – Ganesha Yagya

This day is special for the performance of a Ganesha Yagya called Sankatahara Chaturthi which takes place on the 4th day after the Full Moon. It was great to be back in the yagya hall, listening to Ganesha mantras being chanted. Tomorrow is the inauguration of the new yagya facility so this is the last day we will be doing this. After spending so much time in this room over the past 7 years, I am actually a little nostalgic. I’m going to miss this place!

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After the pujas, it is up onto the roof for the homam. This day, sankatahara chaturthi, marks the start of the “agni” or hot season and they are not kidding. It is noon and already roasting hot, but the heat of the day isn;t until late afternoon when it will be well over 100 F and humidity in the 60’s. So what do we do? Make a fire and sit around it adding ghee so it burns even more brightly. This is dedication.

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Usually they melt the ghee by placing it in boiling water. Today, they just leave it in the sun for a few minutes.

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Afterwards it is back down into the hall for final pujas (called aarti, an offering of the light from burning camphor). The long handled stick is used during the yagya to offer ghee into the fire. At the end of the homam (fire yagya) the stick is dipped into the burning fire and a little of the yagya ash sticks to the spoon. Then a small dot of it is placed on each person’s forehead. This is called “raksha” which means armor…the ash from the yagya fire has protective qualities.

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Every day there are fresh flower malas, today it is white jasmine which have the most amazing fragrance. This variety is in season now and the flowers are much larger than I am used to seeing. If India has a smell…it is certainly jasmine.

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