A Blessed Beginning

A Blessed Beginning:
Wise and wonderful Ganapati clears the path ahead.

Have you seen the chubby elephant-faced god, Ganesh? Here in India where Hindu culture thrives, there is a deity a particular manifestation of the One Faceless, Divine Cosmic Energy for every purpose. Perhaps the most worshipped of all is Ganesha. Also called Vigneshwara or Ganapati, Ganesh destroys obstacles and ensures success. Like a pregnant woman ready to pop with potential, every beginning moment is full of energy and a readiness to give birth to something new.

It’s an important and vulnerable slip of time when the quality of our vision, concentration and motivation set the tone for how we experience what will unfold.

The delicate nature of beginnings is understood here. So when setting out on a fresh path forward, starting a venture, or initiating any effort one cares about, it’s quite natural here to call for Ganesh’s attention, pay him honor and ask for his blessings.

So this morning, I rose at 2:30 am, showered, and wrapped myself in a red silk sari. I applied sacred ash to my forehead and walked across the lane for our Ganapati homam, a ritual performed to bless the official beginning of my new baby Rasa Ayurveda Healing Centre for Women.

As I came into the Centre, I found the priest from our neighborhood temple preparing for the homam in a bedroom at the corner of the Rasa building. He’d chosen this spot as the most auspicious. He was sorting thru dozens of items in readiness for the ritual fruits and fuel, cloth and grains, leaves and sand. After he perused and arranged the waiting supplies, he wrapped himself in new white cotton clothes.

Then he built a fireplace of loose bricks called a homam kundam and filled it with a bed of sand to protect the floor from the heat to come. With white rice flour, yellow turmeric, and the blackened powder of burned rice paddy husk, he drew lines to form sacred geometrical shapes yantras extending out in all directions across the floor. He placed sweet golden bananas, pure white and deep red flowers at intersections of the yantra lines. He lit incense and shining brass oil lamps and invited Lord Ganesha to come and sit with us, to watch and accept the intent of our puja (worship).

Then the homam, in proper, began. The priest lit the fire of coconut husks and jackfruit wood. He chanted Vedic mantras in Sanskrit, while offering ghee, sesame seeds, rice flakes and sugar cane pieces to the flames. The fire repeatedly swelled, devouring the offerings. Svaha! Thick smoke filled the room and our eyes overflowed with tears. But the four of us my partner and brother, Sanju; my house owner and helper in all things, Gopan; and our clinic watcher, Rajan stood steady as our priest carried on.In the midst of his chantings, he spoke my name and my astrological star several times. It was at these moments I knew he was asking for Ganesha to remove any hindrances and make Rasa strong and prosperous. Remove any difficulties, Lord Ganesha, and bring all your blessings! At these times, I prayed with full focus:

Please hear us, big, beautiful Elephant God Ganapati!

May each and every patient, guest and student that comes to us be blessed with health, learning and transformation.

May each of our staff members work together harmoniously and grow personally in their time here at Rasa.

May the plants we grow and turn to medicine yield up their magic.

May the medicines we make and give be fully effective.

May the relationships between Western women, local women and the medicinal plants and healing traditions of Kerala grow and be strengthened, bringing mutual insight and affection day by day.

May the abundance of Grace continue to provide for the needs of operating Rasa, feeding her people and building Rasa’s future.

Ganesha wears a snake around his waist as a belt. The snake is a classic symbol of transformation in many cultures. As a snake endures the process of shedding her skin, she becomes, in essence, reborn. Ganesah knows that transformation is a requirement for true success. Whether the goal is related to a project, to our healing or learning, once we step onto the path toward a goal, we agree to be profoundly change as a part of the process.

May we be transformed!

Our eyes watered. We drank prasadam (a milky water offered to the Divine and accepted as blessed). I was permeated, saturated with sacred smoke and tangible blessings. The homam began winding down, and the priest offered a bundle of kusha grass by igniting it. Then he mixed the black ash with ghee and gave it to us as blessed prasadam. All of us sat in silence for a while, drinking in peace and fulfillment as the priest put away his implements and supplies. It wasn’t long before he stood to leave for the temple to prepare for the community’s morning sunrise worship.

Sanju, my brother here, brought me back to reality when he said, “Chechi, you ought to serve tea!” Usually I rely on Rasa’s fabulous kitchen staff for these things, but I myself made a pot of strong black tea and the three men here sipped and talked until the sun came up and another Kerala day began with all usual duties and charms.

Later I packaged all the sorts of prasadam sweet mixed-fruit salad, soft-skinned bananas and other sweets in lotus leaves and newspaper. I delivered these packets to our nearby neighbor friends who gave all their well wishes for Rasa’s success. I walked home and took a seat in the swing hanging on my front veranda, enjoying the soft breeze wafting thru the coconut and banana trees, realizing that my dream of opening a women’s Ayurveda center here in Kerala is actually coming true!

Blessings and blessings and Grace galore!

Comments

  1. Abdul Munaf says:

    Would you please suggest some fresh herbal Juices?
    We would like to come out with our Fresh Herbal Juice Joints, based on Ayurveda, which we call herbal boosters. These essentially contain things like alkaloids and glycosides, which are not present in fruits as such.

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