In his opening piece for The 88, Philip gives us rare insight into a scared Puja ceremony with the Hindu devotees of India.
I was fortunate enough to be an honoured guest and the only Westerner at a very sacred and moving fire ceremony. I was treated with uncommon kindness and given all-access to photograph whatever I wished. I didn’t understand a word as it was carried out in Hindi, but language was not a barrier in any way.
An Homa, or होम in Sanskrit, is an offering made into the fire during a ceremony of gratitude. Scores of various foods, very ornate, gilded silks, ghee and many other valued items were offered to the fire this day. Most items were passed around for everyone to touch, sending their own energy as an offering to the fire as well.
Sri Sri Sri R.R. Sampath Kumar Iyengar Guruji (full name and title), the Guru of Loka Kalyana Mathe, a temple in the shadows of the storied Chamundi Hill, offers just a portion of over 50 kgs of red chili peppers to the fire.
Touching the feet of a Guru is a form of reverence, and is meant to create and increase humility in the devotee. Real humility is a sign of confidence free from ego.
To say there was love in the air and an ever-present gratitude for life would be an extreme understatement. This intense ceremony lasted over 7 hours; and I will fondly remember it as a simply beautiful experience.
This piece was put together by Philip Hurrle.
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