Archive for April, 2010
In our house we light the evening lamp. Every evening just as dusk falls we refill the oil lamp, clean the wick, and then ignite the first small flame to dispel the darkness. Among the many traditions of my homeland India this one is the most universal and basic, if you will, a ritual that our family and all other families have observed for generations. Then in the beauty and personal liberties possible in our transplanted American life, we continue this tradition with even greater meaning, I imagine.
Back home, some things were simply taken for granted. Like lighting the small silver lamp, “samai” in our tiny, non-ornate altar. How ornate could it get in the cramped match box style “flat” in Mumbai? Still, mother would usually leave whatever she was doing to take care of the chief twilight business- go brighten the wall altar in our kitchen and invite goddess Laxmi’s auspicious presence. Laxmi followed the footsteps of the incoming light, however small, knocking only on those doors that had illumined Laxmi’s path with the first welcoming light of the evening hours. The rest, those that had forgotten to light the “samai,” she would dutifully forget to visit.
Lighting the “diwa” always involved chanting the evening prayers– invocations to goddess Laxmi to enter the abode and bless the household with health, wealth, and happiness. One line says, “Since I bow to the brilliant flame of this light, destroy all the ‘enemy tendencies’ that reside within.” Without ever paying much attention to the significance of this small daily practice in our childhood, the memories of that lit altar stay with me to this day. There is something to be said about oil lamps or candles and how miraculously they change the energy of a room. The bright lit candles along the church pews at a friends evening wedding, many years ago, stirred similar feelings of quiet, tranquil beauty. Acknowledging light, and then ushering it in, through the gentle resolute way of lighting a lamp or a candle during the fading hours of the day keep me linked to the chain of this long line of tradition that continues to hold meaning for me in ageless, boundless ways.
I remember Grandma’s hands joined quickly in prayer, even as her eyes shut instantly, just as soon as someone flicked on the only light switch of her living room. Always amused to see this programmed reaction, I now wish for the same depth of feeling and gratitude as the unfailing devotion of this resolute woman. She did not let by a single turn of the light, without acknowledging her nod to its divine presence. That’s why we light the evening lamp in our house, because of my mother and grandmother and all our combined families put together so that we too may acknowledge the power of light over the presence of darkness, wherever we are.
The Devanand yoga center, is not a regular place for yoga, it is truly a community. Through the many years of the yoga center’s existence, the center has been dedicated to provide opportunity to participate in what a yoga commune we understand it to be. We are so grateful.
People do not seem to understand what it means when we explain this center to be a non-profit center. Our culture many times trains us is disbelieve and/or distrust. We truly are a group of individuals that wants to offer an opportunity to experience yoga non-commercially. We desire of this yoga center to be very personal. We do want the best, the most individually significant experience for each present. We do not care who the practitioner is, young, wise, in shape physically or spiritually, skin color, language, religion. We are interested in the REAL you. We want to really offer the opportunity for each to experience their true identity, our real Ego. We want to share what we have learned, and continue to learn. We want to continue to grow together, in support of each other. We understand this center is not for all. We are looking for that special person that is looking for “that” experience, that personal experience, through our body and mind, to remember our spirit.
In the Devanand yoga center we try so hard to bring an honest sentiment of caring and love to each activity of the center. We try not create expectations, because many times they bring disappointment. However, we always put our heart and soul when we are there. Sometimes it is more successful than others, and it is ok that way too. We will keep practicing…
We do think back on the many eyes, and voices, and hearts we have seen. We are so humbled to think back of all these years of seva, service for the love of others. This is our motivation to see the thousands of people that we have touched, and that have touched our souls.
Our only prayer is to continue to have the strength and clarity of mind to maintaining this space open, our center, your center. You are the special people that make this a special place. We only hope for the future; we gain motivation from the past; we want to serve in the present!