Vedic Havan : Fire Pooja

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Vedic Havan

When you make the decision to sign up for a Meditation Retreat and Course at Real Happiness, you have already decided to go deeper into your spiritual journey. To embark on this path, Real Happiness welcomes you with a Homa, a Sanskrit word, also known as Havan. This is a Vedic fire ceremony that is performed at the start of special occasions or journeys in which we seek blessings from the Gods, Goddesses, and higher powers. It is an act where we offer materialistic objects symbolized by natural materials such as milk, ghee, grains, curd, seeds, and incense, to the fire. Fire is the agent that removes all traces of the past and allows us to step forth on this journey with fresh minds and a clean past.

The Pandit who was present to conduct the ceremony began by preparing a mini altar. On a flat wooden raised surface. He used wheat flour (atta) to create the symbols of Om, Swastika, Shri, a house to represent Navgraha ( 9 planets), a Lotus to represent Lord Ganesha and a Nakshatra house to represent Lakshmi Devi. He then poured some red sindhur powder in the center of the Lotus flower, in three houses of the Navgraha and other specific spaces. He also placed 3 nutmeg seeds in the three houses. He then prepared pan leaves bonded together with clove buds, these were placed in little paper plates along with two fruits and a sweet. These would be offered to the Gods as prashar and later consumed by us as blessed gifts.

Vedic Havans are not rituals. They are part of the science of the Vedas which existed before science existed. This science is our connection to the energy that exists in the Cosmic Universe. As in science, the results of a Havan are perfect and precise if performed correctly. The energy channelized during a Havan is experienced by each individual depending on their awareness and participation during the ceremony.

A full coconut was placed in a copper pot, decorated with pan leaves and flowers, and placed on top of the Shri symbol. Next to the little wooden slab, there was placed a paper bowl of rice with two nutmeg seeds wrapped in kautuka thread representing Lord Ganesh and Lakshmi Devi, curd, a small copper pot and spoon filled with water, two incense sticks, and a mud bowl filled with ghee to light the Diya

The ceremony starts with a prayer by the Pandit who is seated in front of the mini offering space and the rest of us seated around him. He gave each of us grains of rice which he asked us to throw at intervals into the air on his signal as he chanted. He then put Sindhurtikkas on each of our foreheads. As he chanted prayers for each of the symbols drawn he gave a few petals of flowers to each of us, and when the prayers for that symbol were over, we would put all the petals over that symbol. This was carried out until blessings were sought from each of the Gods. At two different moments during the ceremony, he also placed a few drops of water on the ground and asked each of us to dip our finger into the water and apply it to our eyes.

He tied the Kautuka or Mauli Thread on each of our wrists and one of us tied it on his wrist to complete the circle. During the ceremony, a band of Mauli thread was also placed on Lord Ganesha’s symbol and the Coconut each.

The Kautuka or Mauli thread is a red-yellow thread that is also sometimes called Raksasutra / Moui / Pratisara / Kaapu/ Kariyu / Charandu depending on which part of the country you are in. It is traditionally believed to be protective and appears in the Vedic texts AtarvavedaSamitha section. It is also said to turn away misfortune, remove evil eye, or any sort of harmful influences. It is said to depict Lord Vishnu (the God of Balance) for men and Lakshmi (the God of Abundance) for women. Married women generally wear it on the left hand while unmarried women on the right hand. The significance of this is related to the story of Shiva and Parvati. Whenever the two are depicted, Parvati is always sitting to the left of Shiva.

After this ceremony, the Havan begins. Pieces of Mango wood are placed inside a HavanKund or a pedestal for the sacred fire. This container is always square in shape to represent the 4 dishas or directions, ie. North, South, East, and West. In the olden days, these HavanKunds used to be built from the earth in the ground itself. Today, they are portable and made of metal. A camphor ball along with some ghee is added to help ignite the fire.

Here we all make our Sankalp, which is like our resolution and the purpose for which the Havan is being conducted. We were each given mixed herbs and while the Pandit chanted specific Mantras, at his signals, we repeated threw the herbs into the fire while reciting the word - Swaha. The smoke from the herbs is meant to purify the environment as well as all energy.

The purpose of a Havan is to communicate with the energies that run the Universe. It leads to the purification of the elements thereby leading to its transformation. We make our Sankalp in the presence of various natural elements as our witness. The specific chants have the ability to transform and the mantras chanted to have the ability to manifest the power of Gods in the physical world and control nature and our lives.

It takes a lot of courage to embark on self-study and discovery which can be achieved through the practice of Meditation and everything else we will learn here at Real Happiness. 

Some of the words mentioned in the above article. May require an explanation. These are mentioned below:

Lakshmi Devi:

The Goddess of wealth and abundance

Om:

The Universal Sound

Shri:

Devnagri word denoting wealth and prosperity. Shri in Hindi is also used to denote- Mr.

Swastika:

Symbol of divinity, spirituality and prosperity

Lord Ganesha:

The Elephant God, Lakshmi and Shiva’s son and the supreme God to whom we ask for blessings before any new journey or when we have a particular request.

Prashar:

We offer sweets of fruits to the gods. Traditionally, a little piece is given at the offering. These are later consumed by natural creatures. Nowadays, the whole fruit or sweet is placed at the altar to the blessed and the remaining is eaten but those making the offering. It is believed that the Gods consume a little and we consume the rest knowing that we are taking God's energy into us.

Navgraha House:

9 heavenly bodies or planets that influence life here on earth according to Hindu Astrology and the Vedas.

Diya:

Cotton dipped in ghee or oil in a bowl or mud pot, the cotton is ignited to make a flame. So imagine a candle but inside a pot instead and without wax. Light is a symbol of knowledge in the form of energy from the Universe.

Sindhur Tikka aka Rolli:

A red sindhur powder is used to add a dot on the forehead. This dot is called Rolli, symbolic of our third eye chakras that exists between the eyebrows. The third - eye is the main chakras who sees beyond our eyes and the sindhur applied makes us aware of it , leading to subtle activation.

When a woman gets married and her husband applies the Sindhur, it is done. as a line that goes from the forehead into the skull.

The dot and the line symbolise different things.

Water on the eyes:

The water was first offered the Gods, symbolic of when we wash the feet of the gods. In the Hindu /Vedic culture, it is said that a lot of energy passes out through the hands and feet. This is why we use Mudras on our hands when we meditate and we touch the feet of our elders or people we respect. Similarly, for the water, after being blessed in the ceremony, it is then applied to our eyes. Eyes are considered to be like the Surya (sun), that which sees all. So we bless our eyes as they are the receivers of all knowledge.

Svaha:

It is Sanskrit for - it is done- indicating the end of a mantra. When we say this at the end of the mantra, we affirm that we are keeping our Sankalp, and removing all memories of the past. Sva means self in Sanskrit.

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