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Griha Pravesh for the New Ashram Kitchen

by Amrita McKinney

Under cloudy skies and intermittent rain, ashramites and guests gathered at 9:00 am on Sunday morning, 23 September, in the new kitchen to attend a puja invoking the blessings of Lord Vishnu and Divine Mother (in the form of Annapurna) for the new facility. The weather outside cast no shadow on the warmth and joy generated by the puja activities.

Following the puja, conducted by pundits Deepak and Garolaji, we assembled outside for the ribbon cutting. Swami Ritavan scissored the red ribbon strung across the new kitchen entrance. Sonakshi, dressed in an emerald green gown, led the way inside carrying a kalas (a copper pot) atop her head. The kalas, filled with water from the Ganga, coconut wrapped in red cloth, rice, marigolds and green mango leaves, were placed on the altar with other offerings of fruits and flowers.

Each piece of kitchen equipment, sparkling bright in newness, was lovingly blessed as Deepak marked the burners, sinks, and countertops with red swastikas (the Hindu symbol of well-being, prosperity, and good fortune) as Swami Ritavan tied objects with sacred string.

A large cooking pot was set upon a lit stove into which we emptied ghee and semolina. Swami Ritavan initiated the stirring before handing the task over to Rakesh, the cook, who mixing in additional ingredients created a warm, tasty prasad distributed after the completion of the puja and fire ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, a garland of mango leaves was stung across the entrance - a symbolic gesture to protect against negativity.

The new kitchen is located in a separate building behind the dining hall. The dining hall is currently under renovation with an anticipated completion date later this year. Stay tuned for more pictures and stories as the ashram receives an updated look.

All blessings to the Guru and our new kitchen.

In loving service, amrita




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