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.
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Thursday March 11, 2021
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. In 2021 an all-night puja begins at sunset on Thursday, March 11 sunset (dark of the moon) and continues with chanting in praise of Lord Shiva until the morning of Friday, March 12 sunrise. During the puja there are five periods of worship, each followed by prasad. More details will be provided in the month preceding the festival and will depend on the opening or closure of the Ashram during the pandemic.
Hanuman Jayanti 2021
In 2021 Hanuman Jayanti will be celebrated on the first full moon in spring. This occurs on the evening of Monday, April 26 and continues until Tuesday, April 27th with chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, Special Puja to Hanuman, Aarti, and Prasad. A large fancy birthday cake will be prepared and offered to Lord Hanuman. More details of the celebration in 2021 will be made available in the months preceding the celebration and will depend on the opening or closing of the Ashram during the pandemic.
Guru Purnima 2021
Friday, July 23rd to Saturday, July 24th
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. In the year 2021, details of the celebration will become available in the months preceding the events and will depend on the opening or closing of the Ashram during the pandemic. Traditionally the celebration of the Guru includes the chanting of the Maha Mantra, Aarti, and Prasad.
Maharaj-ji’s Mahasamadhi Bhandara 2021
Sunday September 19,-Monday September 20, 2021
Neem Karoli Baba’s Mahasamadhi was on September 11, 1973, the day before the full moon in September. This date was called Anant Chaturdasi, one of the most auspicious moon dates in the Hindu calendar. Details of the celebration in 2021 will be made available in the months preceding the festival and will depend on the opening and closing of the Ashram during the pandemic. Traditionally the festival includes chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, Aarti, and a Special Bhandara Prasad dinner.
Wednesday October 6,-Thursday October 14, 2021
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 of Ashvin, which occurs in 2021 from Wednesday, October 6th to Thursday, October 14th. On the tenth day, Friday October 15th, the Goddess made of clay is lovingly immersed in the Rio Grande River. Details of the Puja in 2021 will become available in the months preceding the festival and will depend on the opening or closing of the Ashram during the pandemic.
“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