By Antony Brennan
On May 23rd and 24th I attended the Home Deity Worship seminar presented by HG Nrsimha Kavaca dasa at Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha Mandir in Sydney, Australia.
Here he is starting the class in the temple room. We spent two whole days hearing about and practicing how to worship deities in the home to the best standard possible.
Here we are making notes in a group exercise, answering the question: “What do the the various elements of worship symbolize. Why do we offer them.” We were each given a book containing course notes. The notes describe the process of home deity worship, the methid and the reason.
Srila Prabhupada hosted the entire event from his seat in the temple. Many of the quotes in the seminar notes are from Srila Prabhupada. Nrsimha Kavaca also told us stories and anecdotes from Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes with deities.
Our teacher showed slides of images, tables and lists, from time to time, to give us insight into many aspects of home worship. Here he is helping us to discuss the various levels of service you might wish to employ depending on a variety of circumstances and available resources.
We looked at, and discussed, various sizes of altars and how they might be arranged depending on space, resources, and circumstances. Here you can see a small altar.
We became familar with each of the items of paraphenalia used to offer worship. An arati tray is a beautiful thing when you start to understand more about them and how they are used.
We made good use of our books to study and research. We were given exercises to complete and our teacher led us in group discussions. Sometimes we broke into small groups and shared our understanding and experiences.
The seminar was very practical. Here we are learning how to make ghee wicks by twisting cotton wool and dipping it into melted ghee.
We took turns at sounding the conch. It’s not so easy as our pujaris make it look and takes some practice to master. Don’t try too hard it doesn’t help.
The seminar was in the temple room so we get to participate in the arati at Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha’s altar. By now we were able to appreciate even more the worship of our lords.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
It is such a beautiful thing to be able to take darsan of Sri Sri Radha Krishna and particpate in their worship.
Then it was off the the temple kitchen where you can see Nrsimha Kavaca teaching us how to clean the puja items with tamarind paste mixed with salt.
We all got to try our hand at scrubbing and washing an arcaman cup and spoon. It was great fun to learn in the association of devotees like this. I had to give my spoon an extra scrub.
Back in the temple room we found out how to use the acaman cup and spoon to purify ourselves and the items of worship.
Waking the deity and putting them to bed was next. Those who have room for a bed can lay their deities in it. There are also practices for those who don’t have the facility of a bed.
Bathing and cleaning the deities is very important. You need to make sure they are comfortable whilst you are doing this. Nrsimha Kavaca showed us how to mix tilak clay and lemon juice as a cleaning agent.
Dress their lordships with care making sure everything looks presentable for the days activities.
I would recommend this seminar to anyone who has deities at home or who is thinking about it. There is a great deal to learn and HG Nrsimha Kavaca das reveals everything in a fun and easy way. We were all inspired to improve our efforts in home worship. Now we have a much better understanding of what we are doing and why. We also got a deep insight into the efforts of our wonderful pujaris at the temple
Everyone who completes the seminar gets a certificate.
You can find out more about deity worship at the website of the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry http://www.deityworship.com/ and the Mayapur Academy http://www.mayapuracademy.org/
You can also subscribe to Arcana News the newsletter of the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry and Mayapur Academy by sending an email to HG Nrsimha Kavaca dasa at firstname.lastname@example.org
My thanks go to HG Nrsimha Kavaca dasa for providing us with such a wondeful learning experience.