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Divine Maha Shivratri- All you need to know

Category : Religious

Bhagwan Shiva is known as the ascetic god, yet Mahashivratri is celebrated to seek blessings for a happy and prosperous conjugal life. He was a minimalist, yet his worshippers request and love him for the generous boons he showers. He is known for his wisdom but funnily enough, regarded as the innocent god (Bholenath)- such is the glory of God Shiva.

The beautiful crescent moon adornment, the third eye on his forehead, Vasuki snake around his neck, holy Ganga river flowing from his matted hair, the Trishul as his weapon and the Damaru which is his musical instrument. The tranquil looking Lord Shiva is one of the most revered God of Hindu religion. Shiva is a Sanskrit word which means ‘The Auspicious One’, he is also known as Mahadev (The Great God).

Origin oLord-Shivaf Shivratri

 

When creation had been completed, Shiva and Parvati went out to live on the top of Mount Kailas. Parvati asked, “O venerable Lord! which of the many rituals observed in Thy honour doth please Thee most?”

The Lord replied, “The 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of Phalgun, is my most favourite day. It is known as Shivaratri. My devotees give me greater happiness by mere fasting than by ceremonial baths and offerings of flowers, sweets and incense.

“The devotee observes strict spiritual discipline in the day and worships Me in four different forms during each of the four successive three-hour periods of the night. The offering of a few bael leaves is more precious to Me than the precious jewels and flowers. My devotee should bathe Me in milk at the first period, in curd at the second, in clarified butter at the third, and in honey at the fourth and last. Next morning, he should feed the Brahmins first and, after performing the prescribed ceremonies, he can break his fast. O Parvati! there is no ritual which can compare with this simple routine in sanctity.”

Parvati was deeply impressed by the speech of Lord Shiva. She repeated it to Her friends who in their turn passed it on to the ruling princes on earth. Thus was the sanctity of Shivaratri broadcast all over the world.

When Shivratri is celebrated?

Maha Shivratri  is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva on the 13th(or 14th) night of the Krishna paksha (dark half or waning phase) of the moon (night before Amavasya) in the month of Phalgun (Feb-March) by almost all sects within Hinduism. It is a day of fasting for all devotees of Lord Shiva and is one of the eight most significant days of fasting in the Hindu Calendar.

How Shivratri is celebrated?

As Lord Shiva is considered to be the lord of meditation and penance, devotees may be best served by engaging in introspection and self-evaluation of their spiritual progress on Maha Shivratri. Hence, this day may be considered as an opportunity to engage in awakening one’s inner spirit towards (self)-realization of the supreme. It is perhaps for this reason that the scriptures encourage us to remShiv-Abhishekain awake throughout the night on Shivratri – to welcome the new moon and its spiritual energy into our lives.

Devotees worship Lord Shiva to get a release from the cycle of death and rebirth. Vigils are maintained throughout the night at Shiva temples. Fasts are also observed by the devotees, prayers are offered at the temple and devotional songs are chanted. Many people also consume bhaang which is a substance procured from cannabis.

The two mantras that are perhaps most relevant to invoking the power and energy associated with Lord Shiva are:

The simple, five-syllable (pancha-akshara) chant of Om Namah Shivaya

ॐ नम: शिवाय:

The mantra of health and protection from (spiritual) death called the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

ॐ त्रियम्बकं यजामहे, सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनं,

उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्, मृत्योर्मोक्षिय मामृतात्

The Lingam

The phallus symbol representing Shiva is called the lingam. It is usually made of granite, soapstone, quartz, marble or metal, and has a ‘yoni’ or vagina as its base representing the union of organs. Devotees circumaShiv_Lingam_Meaningmbulate the lingam and worship it throughout the night. It is bathed every three hours with the 5 sacred offerings of a cow, called the ‘panchagavya’ – milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Then the 5 foods of immortality – milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar are placed before the lingam.

Having observed the requirements of the all night fast, devotees break their fast with the ‘prasad’ offered to Lord Shiva.

Message of Shivratri in modern time

 

The avatar of the Supreme soul, Shiva, in this vicious world to bring us out of darkness of ignorance, so called RATRI, is celebrated as Shivaratri all over the world. Lord Shiva imparts the precious knowledge to us (his child, the souls) through his chariot, the Brahma. Souls adopting the knowledge get rid of KAMA, KRODH, LOBH, MOH & AHANKAR and become the true humans. Lets celebrate the true Shivaratri, by having control over the vices, and be a partner in making of the new world, the world of true happiness, love & peace.

 


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GHS Highlights of the Year 2016!

Category : Activities

Get ready to welcome 2017. Forgive and forget old grudges make a fresh start in 2017. Wishing everyone a very happy new year and pray to load Krishna to bring prosperity to all and peace in the world.

2016 has been a truly fantastic year for all of us. We have seen so many great festivals, events, programmes throughout the year and it was not possible without all of your participation, encouragement and help. GHS is proud to participate in fund raising events during year 2016 and we are happy to announce that we have raised more than £4500.

We thought that we’d use this post to look back at some of the highlights of the past year, as there’s been quite a few!

  • Kite making workshop

kite_making_2015
 

 

 

 

  • Republic day Flag hosting

republic-day-2016

 

 

 

 

  • Variety cultural show January 2016

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  • Rudrabhishek

rudhabhishek-2016

 

 

 

 

  • Holi Celebration

holi-2016

 

 

 

 

 

  • Youth Festival

youth-festival-2016

 

 

 

 

 

  • Hindola Mahostav

hindola-mahostav-2016

 

 

 

 

 

  • Independence day celebration (15th Aug)

independence-day-2016

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ganesh Puja

ganesh_pooja-2016

 

 

 

 

  • Raas Garba competition: GHS Raas team won 1st prize in Raas-Garba competition at Manchester and Garba & Raas teams won 1st prize for best Costume


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Diwali party

diwali-2016

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rangoli and Aarti Thali competition

rangoli-2016

 

 

 

 

 

  • Annakut

 

 

 

 

 

  • Diwali Fireworks

diwali-fireworks-2016

 

 

 

 

 

Fund Raising Events:

 

  • Bhajan Samelan – £3000 raised for Sanatan Seva Mandal, India

bhajan-samelan-2016

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sponsored Walk by Youth club – £550 raised towards Pujya Archanadidi Swararswati Ashram in Chanod, India

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  • Sharad Purmina Garba- £1001 raised for St. Catherine’s hospice care

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What are some of your best memories from the past year with GHS? Please share your comments and memories, Thank you..


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The Universal Message of the BHAGAVAD GITA

Category : Religious

The Bhagavad Gita is considered by Hindus to be the holiest of all the scriptures in Hinduism. It is one of the most often quoted Hindu scriptures within Indian (and perhaps even Western) literature. The Gita is a central discourse of the expansive epic, the Mahabharata. It is often referred to as the jewel in the crown of Hindu philosophy and religious thought.

While the Bhagavad Gita is considered by some to be the Bible of Hinduism, “the teachings of the Gita are broad, sublime and universal. They do not belong to any particular cult, sect, creed, age, place or country. They are meant for all. They are within the reach of all. The Gita has a message for the solace, peace, freedom, salvation and perfection of all human beings.”

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The Birth of the Gita and Origin of Gita Jayanti

Gita Jayanti is an annual celebration to commemorate the day when Lord Krishna rendered his philosophical teachings – immortalized in the epic Mahabharata – to prince Arjuna on the first day of the 18-day battle of Kurukshetra. When prince Arjuna refused to fight against his cousins, the Kauravas in the battle, Lord Krishna expounded the truth of life and the philosophy of Karma and Dharma to him, thereby giving birth to one of the world’s greatest scriptures, the Gita.

The Gita Jayanti, or the birthday of the Bhagavad Gita, is celebrated throughout India by all the admirers and lovers of this most sacred scripture on the eleventh day (Ekadashi) of the bright half of the month of Margaseersha (December-January), according to the Hindu calendar.

 

Essence of BHAGAVAD GITA

“Whatever you took, you took from God. Whatever you gave, you gave to him. You came empty handed, you will leave empty handed.”

  • Why do you worry without cause? Whom do you fear without reason? Who can kill you? The soul is neither born, nor does it die.
  • Whatever happened, happened for the good; whatever is happening, is happening for the good; whatever will happen, will also happen for the good only. You need not have any regrets for the past. You need not worry for the future. The present is happening…
  • What did you lose that you cry about? What did you bring with you, which you think you have lost? What did you produce, which you think got destroyed? You did not bring anything – whatever you have, you received from here. Whatever you have given, you have given only here. Whatever you took, you took from God. Whatever you gave, you gave to him. You came empty handed, you will leave empty handed. What is yours today, belonged to someone else yesterday, and will belong to someone else the day after tomorrow. You are mistakenly enjoying the thought that this is yours. It is this false happiness that is the cause of your sorrows.
  • Change is the law of the universe. What you think of as death, is indeed life. In one instance you can be a millionaire, and in the other instance you can be steeped in poverty. Yours and mine, big and small – erase these ideas from your mind. Then everything is yours and you belong to everyone.
  • This body is not yours, neither are you of the body. The body is made of fire, water, air, earth and ether, and will disappear into these elements. But the soul is permanent – so who are you?
  • Dedicate your being to God. He is the one to be ultimately relied upon. Those who know of his support are forever free from fear, worry and sorrow.
  • Whatever you do, do it as a dedication to God. This will bring you the tremendous experience of joy and life-freedom forever.

 

The Lasting Influence of the GITA

The Gita is not merely a book or just a scripture. It is a living voice carrying an eternally indispensable and vital message to mankind. Its verses embody words of wisdom coming from the infinite ocean of knowledge, the Absolute Itself.

The Gita is a source of power and wisdom. It strengthens you when you are weak, and inspires you when you feel dejected and feeble. It teaches you to embrace righteousness and to resist unrighteousness.

The Gita guides you to glory with the watchwords: “Be thou divine-minded, devoted to Me as your goal, and let your subconscious mind be divine”.

The Lord gives the following firm assurance also: “I become the saviour from this mortal world for those whose minds are set on Me”.

The study of the Gita alone is sufficient for the purpose of scriptural study. You will find in it a solution to all your problems. The more you study it with devotion and faith, the deeper will your knowledge become, the more penetrative would be your insight, and the clearer your thinking. Even if you live in the spirit of one verse of the Gita, all your miseries will come to an end and you will attain the goal of life—immortality and eternal peace.

None but the Lord can bring out such a marvellous and unprecedented book, which grants peace to its readers, and which guides them in the attainment of supreme bliss.

The teachings of the Gita are broad, sublime and universal.

May you all lead the life taught by the Gita! May the Gita, the blessed Mother of the Vedas, guide and protect you! May it nourish you with the milk of the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads!

Glory to Lord Krishna, the Divine Teacher! Glory to Sri Vyasa, the poet of poets, who composed the Gita! May his blessings be upon you all!

 


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Symbolism of Ganesh Sthapana(establishment) & Visarjan (immersion)

Category : Religious

Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesha is believed to be Vighnaharta (Trouble and Obstacle destroyer) for his devotees. Thus, this festival is celebrated as the time when Lord Ganesha takes out all the problems from the lives of people. People bring an idol of Ganesha to their home and this idol symbolises the real Lord Ganesha. People serve Ganesha in the form of idol for ten days and then this idol is immersed in water. It is believed that Lord Ganesha takes away all the troubles and obstacles with him to the water and making the life of the devotees problem free.

The Ganesh Festival or Vinayak Chaturthi as it is popularly known brings people of all religion, caste and creed together, The 10 days of Vinayak Chaturthi is marked by various cultural events, brotherhood, getting together for artis, poojas, numerous religious functions and the general atmosphere is marked by grand festivities.

How to Keep Ganesh Idols for Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh1-updated

Ten days before the day of Ganesh Chathurthi, people install Ganesh idols in specially made structures and start the pooja. On the first day, the priest installs the Ganesh idol in the temporary structure, called ‘Pandal’. The priest performs special poojas to fill the idol with life. This is called ‘Avahana’. The ritual is accompanied by chanting of sacred mantras and bhajans.

Once the ‘Aavahana’ is complete, you can perform aarti and light diyas around the idol. During the prayers, offer 21 blades of Dhruva grass, 21 modakas, 21 red flowers, and a red tilak using sandalwood.  The number 21 represents five organs of perception, five organs of action, five pranas, five elements, and the mind.  Keep a coconut and a small bowl of grains alongside the idol.

Some people can keep Ganesha for 1 day, 5 days, 7 days or 11 days at home and then immersed in a river or sea.  Singers, dancers, and large number of people accompany the farewell procession of Lord Ganesh idol.

Why is Ganesha idol immersed in water after Ganesh Chaturthi festival?

Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations end with the immersion or Visarjan of clay Ganapati idol in water. Hindus worship Brahman or the Supreme Soul present in all animate and inanimate. But for majority of the people it is not possible to worship this formlessness. They need a form to pray to, to seek help, to cry and to take blessings. Ganesha is ‘OM’ the primordial sound or the first ‘Vaak.’ Nirguna Para Brahman takes the form of Ganesha.

Ganesh_Visarjan1

Clay and water is mixed to give form to the formlessness. Each person brings Ganesha in clay idol form into the home. This is the Supreme Being arriving at home. After the celebrations, it is time to accept the eternal cosmic law that which took form has to become formless again. It is a never ending cycle (Chakra).

The formlessness giving way to form and then moving again towards formlessness. Each year Ganesha arrives to teach us that forms change but the Supreme Truth remains the same. Body perishes but Brahman residing in it remains constant. This body becomes energy for another but the source of energy is the same. Bliss is achieved when we realize this.

The act also symbolizes the concept of Moksha, or liberation, in Hinduism. Osho says – ‘Absolute unclinging. That is what is meant by Moksha – freedom – no clinging, not even to gods.’ Thus we create Ganesha out of clay, worship it and later it is submerged (Visarjan).

 

So what do you think about having Ganesha idols at home?  Do you have one in your home? Do you follow all the customs and traditions in worshiping Lord Ganesha? Share your views with us in the comments.

 

Author- Rakesh Ghodke


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Janmashtmi: Significance of Krishna in our lives.

Category : Religious

Janamashtami-blog

The naughty son of Yashoda, fervent lover of Radha, empathetic friend of Panchali, proficient guide of Pandavas, spiritual philosopher of Arjun or the consummate politician of Mahabharata; life of Krishna, exhibited his various facets, all entwined into one. Like the colourful peacock feather worn by him, Krishna displayed myriad shades of his enigmatic personality on this earthly world. Reciprocating everyone with a distinct individuality of sentiments, the essence of Krishna, therefore is eternal, universal. And thus, Janmashtmi, the birth day of Krishna, holds a special significance in the lives of his countless followers, who celebrate the day with fervour globally.

Across the world, people fast unto midnight on Janmashtmi, when Krishna was born. They sing, dance, chant and meditate remembering the lord, enacting him, celebrating his birth. While his flirtatious Rasleela is held in Vrindavan; the mischievous dahi handi is celebrated in Maharashtra; depicting life times of Krishna on Janmashtmi. In Gokul and Mathura, Krishna’s abishek with various auspicious liquids is held with high spirits. While the city of Dwarka, Krishna’s own land, comes alive with celebrations and devotional recitations throughout the day.

The festivities held everywhere, substantiate the profound joy of birth of Krishna. But more importantly, Janmashtmi symbolises the birth of god as human, to demolish the prevalent evil. Krishna in Bhagwad Gita says that whenever faith is under attack or evil will predominate, he will reincarnate to destroy it and save the good. Janmashtmi therefore is more significant than a mere festival. It signifies the presence of Krishna amongst us, as a benevolent god, a compassionate teacher and a fierce protector. The perfect balance of extremes, a mischievous makhan chor or the divine preacher of karma; Krishna, teaches us to pursue the materialistic world but not get immersed in it, oblivious to the presence of supreme. Janmashtmi therefore not only celebrates the presence of Krishna years ago, it asks us to absorb and manifest Krishna’s preaching and values in our own life today.

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So celebrate Janmashtmi this year with little Krishna, and imbibe his balance between the spiritual and the material world; teaching the equilibrium of life, making the world a better place to live.


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Youth Festival a great success, Saturday 2nd July 2016

Category : Youth Activities

77First youth festival organised by Hindu Council of North and hosted by Gujarat Hindu society was a great success.

Over 70 young people from Preston, Bolton, Aston-U-Lyne and Bradford participated. They were engaged in various sports activities and the special feature of the day was the Kho Kho Competition. We had the President of Kho Kho UK present and the game was played with great enthusiasm.

This festival was made possible by our very able Youth Leaders Purnima Patel, Hema Limbachia, Jay Aacharya and other team of young people. It was an excellent day and a very big thank you to our leaders from GHS Management. God bless you all.


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Beliefs of Hinduism

Category : Religious

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Beliefs of Hinduism

Hinduism is the oldest living religion on the earth, which has 33 crore of god and goddess. It is also known as ‘Sanatana Dharma’ because it’s origin is never traced and no one knows about its starting. The main components of this religion are ‘Karma’ and ‘Dharma’. The Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Bhrama are the creator of Hinduism.  The nine beliefs are:

  • The Supreme God

Lord Shiva is the god of gods. He created Lord Vishnu to manage the day-today functionality of the universe. Lord Vishnu created Lord Bhrama to assist him in the maintenance of the worldly things such as living thing, non living things. Bhrama is the god of creation and one among the Trimurti (Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva). Bhrama is the father of all human beings. Hence, the Shiva, the supreme god controls everything in this universe.

  • The Holy Scriptures, The Vedas

Vedas consists of Hinduism’s holy text which includes prayers, hymns, songs, legends, practices, and words from god, which is the foundation of our Great religion Hinduism. Vedas is a Sanskrit word which means knowledge. Goddess Gayatri is the Vedmata because all the Vedas are derived from Gayatri Mantra. The Vedas – Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda. This Vedas is the collection of hymns, formulas, spells etc. the basic principles of Hinduism.

  • The Cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution

Hinduism believes in the reincarnation, astral world, rebirth and life after death. It also believes whatever one do in his present will make his future.

  •  Karma and Dharma

Hinduism believes in the law of Karma and Dharma. It means whatever one do in his present will make his future and decides his rebirth. The person will born in the particular specie such as Insect, Animal, Plant etc.  is according to his deeds one perform in his entire lifespan. Thatswhy every Hindu is admired to help needy and poor, respect everyone religion, perform puja and Hawan, take vegetarian diets etc.

  • Reincarnation and Moksha

It is believed in Hinduism that if any person perform bad deeds in his life. He has to take many births to attain Moksha, to correct his deeds. Then only the soul will be set free and attain peace in the hands of god.

  • Divine Beings

Hinduism believes in the divine beings which exist in the invisible world. The daily worships, rituals, practices, sacraments, hymns, and personal devotionals make the direct attachment (or communication) between you and the Almighty God.

  • Sat Guru or Spiritual teacher

The teacher is one who creates the personality of a student. A Sat Guru is needed in every child’s life because he will teach you the personal discipline, purification, meditation, self-inquiry, yoga etc. to become successful in the life.

  • Respect other religion

Hinduism believes no particular religion (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism etc.) tells the only path to salvation. But, the religion is the way to attain god. All the religion teaches us same thing ‘How to Live Life’, ‘How to attain God’ and ‘Let the others Live peacefully’.

  • Non-violence or Ahimsa

Hinduism teaches love, non-violence, non-injury and ‘how each life is to be loved’. That’s why it believes in Ahimsa.