HOMA SWEET HOMA
On Sunday Maybelline and I went to the Sri Ramakrishna Universal Temple in Homer Glen for a homa for Sri Ramakrishna
A homa is a Vedic fire ceremony. In this case it was four hours long.
Homer Glen is a far-away suburb. In this case it was over an hour away.
Sri Ramakrishna was a great yogi whose teachings live on.
Last September, the Ramakrishna center moved to Homer Glen from the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park.
The new complex is massive, and was surrounded by flowers and butterflies.
We were greeted by a kindly gentleman who told us where to put our chappals (flip-flops), and directed us to the chapel upstairs.
It's a little smaller than the Ramakrishna temple in Mysore, but has the same wonderful shanthi (peaceful) vibe.
It also has the same images of Sri Ramakrishna, his spiritual partner, Sri Sarada Devi, and his disciple Swami Vivekananda (who brought yoga to America when he stole the show with his moving speech at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago).
Afterwords we went to the fire ceremony, which was held in a tent outside.
Very few people were there at the beginning.
They trickled in little by little over the next. four. hours.
There was chanting, and fire, walking around in circles, throwing flowers and rice, and a lot of standing up and sitting down and taking of the light. The best was the quite burning of fruit, flowers and copper and coins in a bag doused in ghee. Watching things burn is cathartic. But watching things that usually aren't burnt is awesome on a whole 'nother level.
The pujari (priest) was wonderful, and occasionally checked in on us to see if we were still tuned in, sometimes saying, "Louder! Louder!" during the mantra segments. He had quite a sense of humor *and* knew exactly what he was doing.
At the end, he put ashes on our forehead, and we walked in a clockwise circle three times around the tent.
Afterwords we got in line to pay our respect to the ashram's two gurus and receive some prasad (blessed food). It felt a little strange to touch the feet of someone other than Pattabhi Jois.
Then we went inside and ate all of the wonderful home-made Indian food* that had been blessed at the homa.
Shanthi birthday indeed.
*One never tires of home-made Indian food.