Today is the day when the moon moves into the constellation of Capricorn in the month of Thai. Known as Thai Pongal in South India and Makara Sankranti in North India. The day is celebrated variously as a day to commune with the devas about the coming harvest and as the beginning of a new year by many in North India. The Thai Moon always shows up large and bright on the horizon in the early morning hours as we all go out to Iraivan for the morning worship and rites.
Sadhaka Tandavanatha enjoys the morning sunrise after the homa.
Sadhaka Rajanatha actually took most of today’s photos but we have to get his photo too!
Iraivan looks and feels like an old Indian temple.
This year the silpis have prepared the fireplace for cooking the pongal pot on the foundation of Iraivan out in front on the south end in front of the rajagopuram.
Bodhinatha is asked to light the fire.
The pongal pot is carefully placed.
Everyone takes time to relax and enjoy the moments as we all wait patiently for the milk and water to boil.
Rice has been soaked and the silpis pour out the water into the pot first… along with some milk…
A group photo while we wait.
The pot begins to steam up.
The sun is rising over the Aadheenam behind us. It is a magnificent morning at Iraivan.
Happy Pongal! The pot boils over toward the east, an auspicious sign.
Next the rice is added and we all wait as it cooks.
About twenty minute later the rice is place on a banana leaf and puja is performed and the arati and other offerings are offered to the sun.
The silpis give the prasadam tray to Bodhinatha
Bodhinatha in turn give a gift to each one starting with Sthapati. It is a new veshti.
Meanwhile a look at the ceiling of Iraivan which is picking up morning light reflected in from outside.
It was an auspicious day. Thai Pongal always seems to bring a sense of sweet restoration of harmony with nature, some thing we all need!
"Temples with multiple deities can be confusing, especially for today's Hindu youth. For clarity, we need to bring forward a more precise understanding of the different Hindu denominations and how the different Gods are viewed from within each denomination. For spiritual advancement it is best to focus on one deity and get to the vibration that deity. When we hear teachings from various Hindus, it is important to understand and identify which denomination they are speaking from. This will avert confusion when that teaching gets contradicted in a different context where someone is talking about the same subject but from a different philosophical background."
Bodhinatha reviews the main characteristic of Saivite philosophy and practice with an indepth focus on the four stages of religions evolution, chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. He highlights how this shows that Saiva Siddhanta is unique and quite from the modern practice of Hinduism as Vedanta