Puja means ‘worship.’ Puja is a ritual used to call upon God.
It is performed for the well-being of the world. Often incense, flowers, water, fresh garments, food, camphor and lights are offered, while prayers are recited or sung. Offerings may be simple or elaborate. Even the simplest offerings can be profound. There are many ways to worship God. The forms of worship can be as simple as single words or rituals lasting days. How one chooses to worship God is very personal. Worship is the expression of one’s heart manifesting itself outwardly.
Beginning Saturday, February 25, 2017
Festival starts at sunset and continues all night
The “Night of Shiva” is celebrated on the day before the new moon in late February or early March, when the moon is furthest from Earth, a time to worship God the Absolute. An all-night puja begins at sunset with chanting in praise of Lord Shiva. There are five periods of worship, each followed by prasad.
Friday April 7 – Saturday April 8, 2017
Chanting of Hanuman Chaleesa begins at 1:08 pm on Friday and continues for 24 hours, followed by aarti and prasad. Hanuman’s birthday is on the first full moon of Spring. Beginning at 1:08 pm on Friday April 7th, we sing Hanuman Chalisas for 24 hours followed by prasad Saturday afternoon. The celebration concludes with a big birthday cake and a children’s party for Hanuman.
Sunday July 9 – Monday July 10, 2017
Chanting of Maha Mantra (Hare Rama, Hare Krishna)
The Guru is honored on the full moon in July, when the moon is closest to the Earth, the time to worship God in form. It is celebrated with the singing of Maha Mantra, which begins at 1:08pm on Sunday and goes for 24 hours followed by Aarti and prasad Monday afternoon.
Friday September 1 – Saturday September 2, 2017
Chanting of Hanuman Chaleesa begins at 1:08 pm on Friday and continues for 24 hours, followed by aarti and prasad. Neem Karoli Baba’s Mahasamadhi was on September 11, 1973, the day before the full moon in September.
Thursday September 21st – Saturday September 30th, 2017
Festivities begin each evening at sunset.
Navaratri lasts for nine nights with worship of Ma Durga, the Goddess of Courage, Ma Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity and Ma Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. The nine nights of Durga Puja are celebrated from the first till the tenth day of the bright half of the lunar month in October. On the tenth day there is a Kumari Puja (puja to the young girls baby thru pre teen) and a procession to the Rio Grande into which the Goddess is lovingly immersed.
“One day a few political leaders came after visiting some cities in the area. They were welcomed and offered prasad, but their reaction was hostile. Seeing so much ghee and other ingredients being used for havan (sacrificial fire ceremony) and the large number of people being fed puris, some of them flared up and said to me, “There is such a food shortage in this country and so many are faced with famine. It is a sacrilege to waste so much food. How this can happen in an ashram is beyond our understanding.”
“Babaji was not there at the time. Later he asked me about the episode. He said, “These are the persons who have become the guardians of the people. They do not know where the food comes from. They do not take the name of God, offer any puja or perform havans. How will the rains come and produce food? They forget God and think everything depends on them. The whole defect lies there.”
– from By His Grace by Dada Mukerjee