Diwali celebrations in Sydney

Hindu Council of Australia has organized a number of celebrations of Deepavali festival around Sydney. Hindu Council has been celebrating Diwali for last twenty years in Sydney and has been the first Hindu organization to bring the festival of lights to Indians and Australians. For more information click here.

Happy Nag Panchami Day

By:Madya Lila.

Warm greetings on the festival of Nag Panchami! Hindu culture has always placed great importance on living in harmony with nature. Planet Earth is revered as our mother, Bhumidevi, and Hindus recognise a sacred connection between all living creatures. According to Vedic teachings, the soul in each body is an equal spark of life and should be respected.

Nag Panchami festival honours snakes and it is celebrated around India in a huge variety of interesting ways according to the local culture and family traditions. At the peak of the monsoon season, when snakes are at their most active, Hindus offer respect to snakes in the Nag Panchami festival.

Nag Panchami is also the auspicious day that Lord Krishna subdued the black serpent Kaliya.

Once, the serpent, Kaliya, who possessed many hoods and was extremely venomous, polluted the water of the Yamuna River. The trees and plants on the river banks dried up. Even the birds flying over the river were overcome by the poisonous vapours and fell into the water and died. The whole river that ran before Vrindavan village was deadly. Krishna decided the serpent needed to be tamed and the environment needed to be purified so that it was fit to drink and bathe in. He dove into the water creating great waves that enraged the serpent. Kaliya emerged and enveloped Krishna in his powerful coils but Krishna broke free and leapt onto Kaliya’s vast, spreading hoods. Then Krishna, who is celebrated as the original artist of all fine arts, began to dance on the hoods of the serpent. As each hood rose to strike Krishna, Krishna would press it down firmly with His lotus feet. Eventually the serpent became exhausted and humbly submitted himself to Krishna, realizing Krishna’s position as the Supreme Lord. Krishna then ordered Kaliya to leave the Yamuna river and move to the ocean so that the river water would once again become clear and clean. It is declared in the Bhagavat Purana that anyone who hears the narration of Krishna and Kaliya need not fear the activities of snakes. Happy Nag Panchami!

Happy Guru Purnima 2018

By:Madya Lila. 

Happy Guru Purnima! Celebrated as the appearance day of Srila Vyasadeva, one of the most revered Gurus and the compiler of the Vedas, Guru Purnima is the auspicious day to honour our spiritual guides. 

Throughout India and in Hindu communities around the world, disciples offer Guru Puja (worship) and express their gratitude to their Guru. Special celebrations are held to recite the scriptures authored by Vyasadeva, accompanied by the singing of hymns, bhajans and kirtan. The system of Guru Sishya Parampara is also followed in the traditional schools of Indian classical music and dance. In India and Nepal, school students honour their teachers on this day, expressing their gratitude and presenting gifts.

Artwork by BG Sharma

In the Vedic system, accepting a guru is considered to be crucial for advancement in spiritual life. The human form of life is sometimes compared to a boat, and the guru is the expert captain who can guide the boat across the ocean of birth and death. It is not possible for a boat to cross the vast and treacherous ocean without a captain, and similarly, it is not possible for a person to solve the problems of life unless he takes shelter of a genuine guru. The word “guru” is composed from two words, gu and ru. The Sanskrit root gu means darkness or ignorance, and ru denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore, a Guru is one who removes the darkness of our ignorance.

Sri Guru Pranama
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya 
caksur unmilitam yena tasmai sri-gurave namah

I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who with the torchlight of knowledge has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance.

Artwork by BG Sharma

Perth Mint releases Diwali 2018 Stamp and Coin Cover

The coin features a representation of Ganesha with his traditional motifs – a lotus flower, an ornamental axe and a mouse, symbolising the deity’s state of enlightenment. The design includes the inscription ‘happy diwali’ and The Perth Mint’s traditional ‘P’ mintmark.

Jagannatha Puri Ratha Yatra 14th July 2018

By: Madya Lila

May the Lord’s blessings be upon you on the auspicious day of Puri Ratha Yatra. In the holy city of Jagannatha Puri, the Supreme Lord resides within His ancient temple by the shores of the sea. Once every year, during the rainy season, Lord Jagannatha (Lord Krishna), along with His elder brother Balarama and His younger sister Subhadra come out of the temple to ride on magnificent chariots in a grand parade to the Sri Gundicha temple.

This festival is called Ratha Yatra, the journey (yatra) of the chariots (ratha) and it has been celebrated in Jagannatha Puri for many hundreds of years. It commemorates the occasion when Krishna, accompanied by His brother and sister, travelled by chariot from Dvaraka to Kuruksetra to meet their dear friends and family members from Vrindavan, fulfilling their wish to see Him again after many years.

In the 16th century, the great saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, devoted 20 years of His life to worshipping Lord Jagannath and propagating the sankirtan movement in Puri. Due to His influence, millions of pilgrims from around the world visit Jagannatha Puri for the Ratha Yatra festival to gain darshan of the Lord. It is said that simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement towards liberation from the wheel of birth and death. Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a prominent scholar and devotee in the line of Lord Chaitanya, inaugurated the international Ratha Yatra festivals that are now held in more than 100 cities around the world.

An important element of the festival is called Chera Pahara (sweeping with water). The Gajapati King, ruler of the medieval kingdom of Odisha, humbly and with great devotion sweeps the road in front of the chariots with a gold handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood powder and water. By the Gajapati’s performing this menial service, we learn that no matter how exalted a person one may be, we are all the servants of the Lord. For this reason, it is recommended that at least once a year, we should engage ourselves in cleaning the temple of the Lord to help to remind us of our position as a servant of the Lord and to taste the happiness of humility.

Take a Quiz on Hindu Festivals

Test your knowledge about Hindu festivals.

Test your knowledge about Hindu Festivals

Please enter your email:

1. Galungan is a Thai buddhist holiday? Yes/No

 
 

2. Ram Navami is celebrated nine days after Lord Rama’s birthday? Yes/No

 
 

3. Panchang is another name for a Hindu Calendar? Yes/No

 
 

4. Durga Puja and Navratri festivals are dedicated to worship God in multiple female forms? Yes/No

 
 

5. A Hindu calendar usually has 12 months but every few years it ends up having 13 months? Yes/No

 
 

6. It is auspicious to see Kani as the first thing on Vishu day? Yes/No.

 
 

7. Hindus in Bali, Indonesia use a Saka calendar for determining when to celebrate their Hindu festivals? Yes/No

 
 

8. Krishna killed demon Kansa on Krishna Janamashtami day? Yes/No

 
 

9. Which of the following festivals start a Hindu new year? You can tick multiple answers.

 
 
 
 

10. Rongali Bihu coincides with Poi-Sangken festival in Thailand and other regions of East and South-East Asia? Yes/No

 
 

11. Shiva Ratri is a night of introspection and meditation for Hindus everywhere? Yes/No

 
 

12. Which of the following statements are true? Tick the correct answers.

 
 
 
 

13. Holi is a common name of all holy festivals of Hindus? Yes/No

 
 

14. Guru Purnima is celebrated to pay respects to your Guru? Yes/No

 
 

15. Deepavali or Diwali means a row of lighted lamps? Yes/No

 
 

16. Thaipusum is a Hindu festival celebrated in Thailand and coincides with Deepavali? Yes/No

 
 

17. During Ganesha chaturathi festivals, clay idols of Ganesha are immersed in the sea to dissolve them? Yes/No

 
 

18. Hari Raya Saraswati festival of Bali, Indonesia is same festival as?

 
 
 
 

19. Makar sankranti and Pongal are the same festival? Yes/No

 
 

20. Which Hindu organization started Rath Yatra in western countries?

 
 
 
 

21. Odolan is the start of the Balinese new year? Yes/No

 
 

22. Bihu and Vishu are two different names for the same festival? Yes/No

 
 


Ram Sita Kalyanam Vivah in Parramatta 3rd November 2018

Hindu Council of Australia is celebrating Deepavali festival on 3rd and 4th of November 2018 in Parramatta Park this year also.

A special attraction of this year is likely to be an elaborate performance of Rama Sita Kalyanam or Ram Sita Vivah (marriage of Ram and Sita) being planned for 3rd November in Parramatta park location.

Ram Sita Kalyanam volunteers team meets to plan the event

Ram Sita Kalyanam volunteers team meets to plan the event

This is going to be a huge event and the planning has already started. Our Sai Ji is leading the initiative. A team of volunteers has already started preparations for this grand occasion. Some of the suggestions circulating among the team is to 

  • perform Rama Pattabishekam
  • procession/kolatam to carry idols to the mandapam in a palaki
  • Kalyanam or Vivhah before sunset.

We welcome your suggestions about this event and encourage you to come and join the volunteers team and shape this event.

To participate in making the event happen, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. You can also visit Hindu Council web site and sign up as a volunteer specifying your interest in Ram Sita Kalyanam event.

Ashraya Band celebrates International Day of Yoga with concerts in Darwin

To celebrate International Day of Yoga, the kirtan band Ashraya will be joining the festivities in Darwin. On their second tour to the Top End, they bring their world grooves and mellow sounds with beautiful ancient mantras that soothe the soul’s inner-most needs. 

Weaving together the mantras with amazing music, Ashraya brings a unique and creative approach to kirtan – from heart-warming, mellow harmonium chants to upbeat kirtan dance grooves. They will be performing at a number of events:

24th June | Habit Breaker ~ Freedom Maker

 
Ashraya is a Sanskrit word meaning shelter. In the beautiful, heartwarming mantras sung in kirtan, we find our shelter from the storms of life. They have performed at a number of locations including the MindBodySpirit festival recently in Sydney and with Hindu Balinese community in the north east region of Bali. 
 
 
The band members are all long term practitioners of Bhakti Yoga in the Vaisnava tradition. Their passion is share the joy that kirtan and the deeper spiritual aspect of yoga bring to others regardless of their backgrounds. They have been inspired to share the yoga wisdom and teachings so that others may apply these in their own lives to optimise their whole well being. You can also catch Ashraya performing regularly on the Gold Coast at the Mantra Room in Burleigh Heads. 

Happy Galungan & Kuningan 9th June 2018

By Madya Lila.

This Balinese celebration of the triumph of dharma over adharma is one of the most auspicious days in the Balinese calendar and relates with the Diwali celebration of Hindus in other parts of the world. In Balinese, the word “Galungan” means victory and commemorates Indra’s victory over a tyrant king who prevented his subjects from practicing their religion. Balinese people make offerings, decorate their homes and temples, gather their whole family and visit temples to offer prayers. One of the most distinctive features of Galungan are the beautiful penjor decorations that line whole village streets. Penjors are long bamboo poles decorated with young coconut leaves, fruits and flowers. 

The tenth day of Galungan is the celebration of Kuningan when the ancestors and gods and goddesses who have visited the earth return to their heavenly homes. Kuningan is also the day when the Supreme Lord, known as Ida Sang Hyang Widhi, blesses and brings prosperity to the whole world. Balinese make special offerings of yellow turmeric rice on this farewell day as a symbol of their gratitude to God for the life, joy, wealth, health and prosperity given.

Best wishes on Savitri Puja!

Written by Madya Lila

Best wishes on Savitri Puja!

Savitri Puja celebrates Savitri, the courageous woman whose loyalty and courage brought her husband back from the dead. Savitri’s story is found in the Mahabharata. In ancient times, Savitri was a princess who chose to marry Satyavan, a prince living in exile in the forest. She left behind her life of luxury and loyally accepted the hardships of forest life where she devotedly cared for her husband and his family. One day, while chopping wood in the forest, Satyavan suddenly felt faint. He laid his head in Savitri’s lap and died. But when Yama, the god of death, came to take Satyavan away from his body, Savitri got up and followed him. Again and again, Yama tried to convince her to turn back, warning her of the terrible consequences to herself if she followed him, but she continued to follow behind him. Finally, Yama offered Savitri a boon, saying she could ask for anything except the life of Satyavan. Savitri requested that she and Satyavan have 100 children, creating a dilemma for Yama. How were Savitri and Satyavan to have children if he took Satyavan away? Impressed by Savitri’s devotion, Yama returned Satyavan to his body and Satyavan awakened as if from a deep sleep. Women who observe fasting on Savitri Puja hope to achieve Savitri’s qualities of love, determination, loyalty and courage as well as a long and happy life for their spouse.

Artwork by B.G. Sharma

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Hindu Council Australia