Last month I was in San Diego visiting my son, daughter-in-law and four grandsons when I was totally shocked to have a surprise party for my 70th birthday. My other two sons, their daughters, several of my siblings, nieces, nephews, and friends all flew in and gathered in the park where I was returning from a walk. I do not remember being so surprised since my 16th birthday, when my parents threw me a party. It was a lovely day, playing games, laughing, catching up with each other, and sharing love and memories of our lives together. It was a very special day that I will treasure forever honoring me as Mother, Grandmother, Sister, Auntie, and Friend. Here is a photo of most of the attendees.
Since I have been back at the Ashram, I have been spending many mornings dressing our Divine Mother. She has a big birthday this year as well, She will be 30 years old in July. I cannot express the depth of bliss that I experience at Her feet as I dress and decorate Her with the utmost attention. She is just so beautiful! And She seems to continue to grow in Her beauty. When I look at Her early photos, She is lovely, but now She is ravishingly intense. Here is a photo from thirty years ago, one from 15 years ago, and one from yesterday.
It is like She has matured into a most elegant Mother to love us, her children. Shri Babaji said that She is the “Love I carry in My Heart for you”. Goodness knows, we need that love in this world today. In one of the stories in the Devi Bhagavatam, that we read each Navrtri, there is a story about Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva going to Mani Dwipa, the Jewel Island, where Mother resides. As They bowed to Her feet, They were amazed to see that the whole universe was contained in Her toenail alone.
This may seem odd, but each morning as I apply chandan, kumkum, and aksatam (rice) to Her toes, I also put some on for the benefit of all the people in the universe contained in Her toenails. In the beginning of an older translation of The Haidakhandeswari Sapta Sati (700 Verses Praising the Divine Mother), which we read each day of Navratri as well, there is a beautiful puja written by Shastriji. He told me that we should do this puja to the three aspects of the Divine Mother during Navratri each morning. Here are the words that he wrote that accompany each of those three offerings and some of their significances:
Om Shri Mahadevyai namah chandanam samarpayami.
Om Great Goddess, I bow to You and offer You this sandalwood paste.
Oh Great Goddess, please accept this sacred sandalwood paste, deliciously perfumed and pleasing to the mind, to apply on your forehead. Sandalwood paste is said to cool the mind for clearer vision.
Om Shri Mahadevyai namah kumkuman samarpayami.
Om Great Goddess, I bow to You and offer You this kum-kum powder.
This kum-kum powder is the giver of divine beauty, by which a woman becomes most attractive. Oh Devi, You are worshipped by being offered kum-kum powder. Oh Parameswari, may You be pleased with me. It is said to awaken the third-eye, the eye of wisdom.
Om Shri Mahadevyai namah aksatam samarpayami.
Om Great Goddess, I bow to You and offer You these whole grains of rice.
Oh Great Goddess, please accept these pure, clean rice grains mixed with pearls and give me good understanding. It is said to signify purity and prosperity.
At this quiet moment in the morning, I am praying to the Divine Mother to bestow clarity, wisdom, understanding, purity, and prosperity on all of Her children. At the end I bow and recite lines from the Haidakhandswari Sapta Sati (700 Praises of the Divine Mother of Haidakhan written by Shastriji). “The vision of Thy lotus feet sustains me, no other has its part, if ever I will gain this, no other wish will touch my heart.” “ Oh Mother, Let Thy mind be moved by mercy, illustrious is Thy world-redeeming grace, by which even the darkest sinners have crossed this sea, Oh Mother give that grace to me, it is the shelter of the hopeless and the despairing.”
I am excited that Spring Navratri is only a month away. It is a time that we really plunge into the readings and rituals of the Mother, thanking Her for all She brings to our lives. Fortunate are those that can take this time from their busy lives to join in with us at this Ashram or any Ashram around the world (Haidakhan, India is spectacular this time of year). For me, I often step out of time and swim in the realm of the munis and yogis from times way past hearing these ancient stories of Mother. If you cannot join us physically, setting aside some time in your home for special worship is also very enriching. See below for more information about the Spring Navratri celebration.
In truth and love,
Ceremonies and Schedule
The new-moon fire ceremony will be on Wednesday, March 6 (Shivaratri) and the full-moon fire ceremony is on Wednesday, March 20 (Holi). All fire ceremonies begin at 10am followed by a meal. Please arrive ten minutes early, freshly bathed, in a long skirt or pants with shoulders covered, and having fasted from grains, cereals, meat, eggs, garlic and onions. Fruit, yogurt, unsalted nuts, veggies and tea or coffee are fine to eat before. If you have a dietary need for something more hearty before our meal at 11:30 or so, please partake.
Our evening aarati is at 6pm, morning aarati at 7am, and the small (indoor this time of year) fire ceremony is at 8:00am. We do not have the small fire ceremony when we have our large fire ceremony on new and full moons, which is outside unless it is below freezing. The Maha Lakshmi Shop is open every day from 10am until 4pm during the month of February. We love to see you.
If you would like to participate by sponsoring a fire ceremony or a bhandara (feast) we would be happy to send you a blessed item from the fire ceremony if you request. They are:
$27 sponsorship - Copper, brass, nickel Om Namah Shivaya bracelet
$54 sponsorship - Rudraksha, Rosewood, or Tulsi Mala
$108 sponsorship - Rose Quartz Mala or a copper, silver, brass Om Haidakhandi bracelet
(Click here to go to our donate link to sponsor a fire or bhandara.)
Maha Shivaratri on Tuesday, March 5th Night and Wednesday, March 6th Morning
The night of Lord Shiva will be celebrated at the Ashram on Tuesday, March 5th evening. We will begin this year with aarati at 6pm followed by the first of four Lingam Pujas at 7pm. We will continue chanting straight through with the next pujas at 9pm, 11pm, and 1am.
The new-moon fire ceremony will be the next morning at 10am. There is still some room for folks to stay in the dormitory that night. You may call the Ashram at 719-256-4108 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations.
Sewing Party for the Divine Mother - Wednesday, March 13 at 10am
It has become a lovely tradition at the Ashram for several of us to come together with our sewing machines (the Ashram has two) and sew new saris for Navratri for the Divine Mother and veils for our Kumaris (children we honor at Navratri). If you would like to join us, just bring your sewing skills and machine, if you have one, and be at the Ashram at 10am. We usually wrap up at about 12:30pm with a lovely lunch made by Deborah. If you do not have sewing skills, we also need ironers and have have other jobs. Call with any questions at 719-256-4108. It is a glorious day of sumptuous fabrics and fine company, so join us if you can.
Spring Navratri (Divine Mother Festival) - Saturday, April 6 - Sunday, April 14
This year's Spring Navratri dates are Saturday, April 6 through Sunday, April 14. We still have a few rooms available, so call or email soon if you would like to reserve a space. Fortunately, we have two weekends this year, since it begins on a Saturday, April 6 and completes the following weekend on a Sunday, April 14, so more of you will be able to stay at the Ashram.
We will honor our children this year on Sunday, April 7 following the fire ceremony which begins at 10am. There will be a story of the Divine Mother, chanting, small gifts for the children, and a huge Indian feast. We hope you can attend and share the word with other families. We do cherish our children at the Ashram, many of whom have now grown up and have their own families.
You can call us at 719-256-4108 or email us at email@example.com to reserve your space in the dorm or with any other questions. It is always such a special time together honoring the Divine Mother with daily large fire ceremonies at 10am, special pujas, discourses, chanting, aarati, children's festival, and bhandaras. Jai Ma!
Mindia Devi Klein to Play at Ashram and Perform in Crestone During Navratri
The Ashram is excited to have Mindia Devi Klein come to the Ashram for Navratri. She is a long-time devotee of Shri Babaji and spent time in His Ashram with Him in the early 80's. She is also a multiple award winning musician, composer, and educator whose creative musical endeavors and collaborations have earned her a reputation as a singular and beloved multicultural musical innovator throughout the world. She is also an American Institute of Indian Studies/ Smithsonian Fellow of Indian Classical music and a Fulbright Scholar.
At age 18 she found herself in Marin County in Northern California’s Bay Area where she met Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, son of Allauddhin Khan renown guru to Ravi Shankar. She studied at Ali Akbar College of Music where she first studied bansuri flute. There, under the guidance of beloved bansuri maestro G.S. Sachdev, she took her own first steps toward mastery of the bansuri, Krishna’s most beloved and deceptively simple classical bamboo flute of India. She continued her studies in Mumbai and Delhi with her second beloved bansuri guru, world renown maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, and with tablamaestro Zakir Hussain.
Having begun her career as a musician listening to the great jazz musicians in New York City and beyond, Mindia’s music has always been deeply influenced by all forms improvisational and she has sought out ways and means to integrate the rhythms and melodies of both ancient and contemporary sounds and ideas into her own compositions and creative output. A co-founder of the widely acclaimed world music ensemble ANCIENT FUTURE, Mindia has recorded with many musicians of note. To find out more about Mindia Devi go her web site: www.indojazzmusic.com, or connect directly about recordings, lessons and performances at:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mindia will be playing after fire ceremonies during the Spring Navratri with the other musicians. She will be performing at the Cloud Station in Crestone on Saturday night, April 13th at 7:30pm. We hope you can join us.
11th Annual Lakshmi On-Line Fundraising Auction - May 10 - 19
It is time again to share your love and support for the Ashram in a fun way by supporting the Spring Maha Lakshmi On-Line Fundraiser Auction from may 10 - 19. The site is up, although only about half the items are on-line so far, but enough to give you the idea of what you might be able to donate or how to sponsor for this great event. It is a big part of our budget each year and we hope to raise enough to help build our long-term resident dormitory, so we deeply appreciate your support. Click here to see what is up so far. Here are a couple of the items.
Babaji Gathering and Divine Mother's 30th Birthday Celebration - July 16 - 21
As mentioned above, our beloved Divine Mother will be turning 30 years old in July. The Ashram in conjunction with the American Haidakhan Samaj will be celebrating with a large Babaji gathering beginning on Guru Purnima Day, Tuesday, July 16, with a large fire ceremony, chanting, and feast.
The week will continue with a Karma Yoga Immersion; building, painting, and making repairs to the Ashram. Since this is one of Babaji's strongest teachings, it has long been a part of gatherings and great way to connect with Baba, the Ashram, and each other. We will also have small trainings in pujas, fire ceremonies, mindfulness practice, and other pertinent subjects.
The culmination will be an Interfaith gathering on Sunday morning, July 21 followed by a huge Indian feast. Representatives, spiritual groups, and colleges will be invited to share about their connection to Mother Earth and how they are serving Her. During this time of climatic changes and deterioration of Mother Earth, it feels important to speak to this aspect of the Divine Mother as Bhuveneswari, Mother Earth.
We have always felt and stated at the Ashram, that we felt it would be duplicitous of us to honor Mother here in our temple without honoring Her as Mother Earth, for this reason we live off the grid, compost, recycle, and eat organic food. We have strived to be an example to the community and to all who come to visit of "walking lightly on our Mother, the Earth".
To make reservations to stay in the dormitory during this time, please email us at email@example.com. It will be a very full time, so make your reservations early. Jai Ma!
Karma Yoga at the Ashram
It has been a very snowy month at the Ashram with very few visitors. Our primary karma yoga has been snow clearing, preparing for ceremonies, cleaning, cooking, and serving. We are always grateful for all of the folks that come to the Ashram and help us with all the jobs that are necessary to make this place run smoothly and able to receive our hundreds of visitors. We really could not get everything done without you. You are all one of the reasons this Ashram is what it is. Thank you.
We ask each of you to look into your hearts and see what this Ashram means to you and to please donate as you are able. You may donate by clicking here and scrolling down (you can even set up a monthly tithe). We deeply appreciate all of you that do tithe monthly to the Ashram. You can also send a check (made out to HUA) to P.O. Box 9, Crestone CO, 81131. We are so deeply grateful for your support, love, and prayers. Bhole Baba Ki Jai!