Bodhinatha and Shanmuganathaswami are in Greenbelt, Maryland attending the pujas and festival activities of the annual Ilankai Nallur & Kathirkamam Kanthan Festival at the Murugan Temple of North America. This temple has three endowments with Hindu Heritage Endowment, and this connection with HHE is inspiring Bodhinatha and Shanmuganathaswami to spend some time reviewing the HHE website.
During the homa on the front steps of the temple little Lalitha was given her commencement of learning ceremony, vidyarambha, one of the sacraments of childhood. Lalitha is the daughter of two of Bodhinatha's Master Course students, Mayuran and Amanda Muttulingam.
One of the first activities to begin the Nallur festival was the Ganesha abhishekam. In 1981 Gurudeva gifted a Ganesha murthi to the late Arumugam Saravanapavan and his wife Pathmini, and this was the beginning of the Murugan Temple of North America. A beautiful shrine was built for the Ganesha murthi in the temple, and the shrine has since developed a very powerful vibration. Pathmini created a fund (#39) for the Pillaiyar shrine with HHE to insure the continued pujas and abhishekams for Lord Pillaiyar. The fund provides a grant to purchase milk, honey, coconut water, flowers and other supplies for the shrine. Pathmini created this as a single-donor fund in which only members of her family may contribute. Read this inspired story at the HHE web site: http://www.hheonline.org/reports/2003/oct-nov-dec/
The letter "Ya" in the Panchakshara Mantra, Namasivaya, stands for the soul. Bodhinatha uses the Panchakshara Mantra to show how the soul is initially drawn by Siva's veiling grace, which leads the soul to maturity through experience in the world. Then comes Siva's revealing grace. When we've had enough of the world, Siva's grace pulls us toward God. The mantra also has the simple, two-syllable form. Si- Reflecting on God the Transcendent Absolute, Va-God as the All Pervading Consciousness