For the past few years a small group of dedicated souls on Kauai has been holding Plant and Seed Exchanges with a goal of educating island people in how to grow their own foods, and sharing the best vegetables for the tropics. This year they invited Palaniswami to give a one-hour Keynote address at the event.
It was held at the Kauapea Farms, owned by Gary and Jillian Seals, shown here.
About 250 people joined in the festive day. Dozens of tables were put up under a greenhouse and several tents, and on them many hundreds of seeds. Everyone could come to a table, see a green bean or squash seed they wanted for their garden, and take it away, all for free!
The monastery table was the most popular of all!
The monks greeted everyone, answering many questions about the plants and seeds we brought to the exchange, and enjoying the camaraderie.
The monks had carefully put seeds into small envelope, hundred of envelopes, each marked with the contents. And they also made the green signs you see here, to explain each plant, give its history, value and photos.
For hours, the table was a non-stop gift-giving, which monks of course love to do.
After the exchange, everyone (well, many) came to a small wooden barn for Palaniswami's talk about the adventures of monks in nature and the sacredness of the Iraivan gardens. Here Senthilnathaswami works to get the projector up and runnning.
Swami took them on an extensive tour of the gardens and grounds, including the Annapurna veggie garden which feeds the monks with fresh, organic produce each day.
He told of the giant trees that are planted near Iraivan Temple, trees that will live 2-4,000 years.
Then into the botanical gardens with their mounds and deities. Many came to the monastery the following day, to see with their own eyes the marvels they saw in that little barn.
The blessings of Lord Murugan awaken wisdom which resides in his chakra. "Pray to Lord Murugan to unravel the great mysteries of the universe." When we get emotional we lose touch with our wisdom. Murugan inspires penance to soften karmas and purify the mind, chitta-shuddhi. If you do kavadi in the right spirit, to get the full blessing, have in mind specific misdeeds, apologize to the deity, learn from it, promise to do your best. Visions are still happening. Feeling the energy of the deity is stronger during festivals such as Skanda Shashti.