|AHYMSIN NEWSLETTER, ISSUE - November 2018|
Griha Pravesh for New Dining Hall
by Amrita McKinney
A puja for the newly designed dining hall at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) took place on October 26, 2018. The new dining hall is spacious and bright and will be able to hold more people during busy times. The white marble floor and newly painted white walls add a soft, sattvic atmosphere to the morning’s gathering.
As more chairs were gathered to accommodate the 9:30 crowd, Swamiji joked that he had been assigned to entertain until the puja starts. In his gentle, mindful manner, Swamiji instructed us on the importance and symbolism of the dining room as sacred place. This morning, he told us, we have come together to sanctify the dining room and honor its role as a place of nourishment and sustenance.
The elaborate and colorful puja to follow was a ceremony of offering and thanksgiving. Marigolds, rose petals, and white mums scented the air. Large garlands of marigolds were tenderly draped over pictures of Swami Rama and Swami Veda. As with the new kitchen puja, the kalas (copper pot) was filled with water from the Ganga, a coconut, rice, marigolds and green mango leaves. Anu Radha, in floral pink, carried the kalas on her head as she led a procession around the inside perimeter of the dining room. As they walked, Pundit Garolaji showered Swamiji with rose petals.
A haven (a fire ceremony) followed. A small group, including the Dikshas, two construction foremen, Swamiji, Deepak and Garolaji gathered around the portable metal kunda. Swamiji poured clarified butter and participants tossed samagri into the wood fire. Swaha was repeated after each repetition of the Gayatri mantra and other sacred incantations. Earlier, Swamiji had told us that swaha means to offer and to let go.
Following the ceremony, sadhakas and ashram workers were on hand to ready the dining hall for the approaching call to lunch. Tables and benches were brought in. Seating mats received new covers. Xerox copies of prayers were distributed. Now we were ready to serve and be served our first meal in the new dining hall in traditional bhandara fashion!
Construction workers had been working around the clock in preparation for the opening puja. While there is still work to be completed and operational functionality to be fine tuned, the new space offers sadhakas a fresh, updated ‘room with a view’ in which to receive nourishment.
All blessings to the Guru and the new Dining Room.
In love and light, amrita
Previous story in September about the new ashram kitchen.