On Thurs 7 Aug 08 @9PM I had a deeply moving and spiritual experience when I lit candles and deeyas for Tibet. This was in unison with everyone in my time zone and done globally. I'd like to explore this and share my experiences with you and hear yours as we participate in universal collective prayer events together. I hope to work together with all the universe's beings as we move toward the ideal of Universal Collective Prayer.

Come join me in Universal Collective Prayer!

May God Bless Us All!

UCP-Universal Collective Prayer is produced by Meady's Musings Production . Copyright 2006-2011

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happy Baptist Liberation Day 2009!

Today in Trinidad and Tobago it is a public holidy to mark Baptist Liberation Day. This day is to commemorate the struggle that these people had to put to have and keep their religion under the British Christian rule...as this was what the British had done back then according to this Nalis (National Library and Information System in Trinidad and Tobago) article:

"From 1917 to 1951 the Spiritual and Shouter Baptist faith was banned in Trinidad by the colonial government of the day. The legislation to enact this ban was called the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance and it was passed on 16 November 1917.

The reason given for the ordinance was that the Shouters made too much noise with their loud singing and bell ringing (Henry 32-35) and disturbed the peace."

In 1996 the then government in power (which is currently in opposition) granted the day...today March 30th a public holiday. You can read more about this Prohibition on the Nalis article here.

I have to admit I don't know much about the celebrations of these people and here on the Universal Collective Prayer we would like to learn more...so I promise you this next year for sure I'm going to have more live actual on the floor content here on this day about these people and their religion.

But what I can tell you is some of their struggle sounds very similar to the ones Hindus had on the island and so that in itself is already a story in Universal Collective Prayer. They also use coloured flags in their religion that look different to Hindu ones but are coloured flags none the less. Also I've seen interviews already with people of this faith speaking about their spiritual experiences already and get this...they see the Shiv man! :)

So Happy Baptist Liberation Day to all you Spiritual and Shouter Baptists here on the islands and wherever you may be! Have a good one! :) And may we all continue to join in the dance that is Universal Collective Prayer! :)

Phagwa/Holi Celebrations March, 2009-Trinidad

I left a gap in showing this footage to mark the death of the wife of the Secretary of the Sanathan Dharma Maha Sabha(SDMS)-Shanti Maharaj who died admist the Phagwa celebrations.I felt it only fitting as all of my footage/coverage was taken of the SDMS Children's Phagwa celebrations. While I was there attending I had no idea that she was ill and her husband Sat Maharaj was the Master of Ceremonies at the event- a very dutiful and brave act of seva I'd say to carry on with his Dharma/duty although his wife was ill. Later on I would find out that she would normally oversee the preparation of the approximately 10,000 lunches that are made for the kids that attend from all the SDMS schools across the island. However that was the first time in how many years she was too ill to do so or attend the function. Anyway death and leaving the mortal coil and perhaps again returning is part of the way of the Universe and so also all part of Universal Collective Prayer but for those of us that live on the earthly plane the dance that is Universal Collective Prayer must go on...no choice in the matter really...Subsequent to that delay I prepared a draft of this post on Mar 23rd but then went into a kind of hibernation meditating with the Shiv man as you will see mentioned on my two previous posts...so finally...here it is the footage of Phagwa Celebrations in Trinidad for 2009!

I attended the SDMS Children's Phagwa celebrations on Sat 14 Mar 2009 at the Simbhoonath Capildeo Tunapuna Hindu (SDMS) Primary School. I'm sorry to report that I'm not yet ready to give up my day job as an engineer to become the roving reporter for the prayers and so you will just for now until the prayers who knows expands and I can hire a roving reporter of my own have to bear with me! So me as a not true roving reporter kinda made it to the event late...but I was good enough to listen to the opening remarks on the radio while I made my way to a friend's house where she lives when visitng the island from UK. We actually had the good fun of walking to the school from her house which was about half a mile or so away.

Here is one of the reasons I was late! I was mixing abeer last minute and putting it into these little contraptions I put together using empty Coke Zero 20 oz bottles and a little spray gun thingy I bought at a pooja store...made in China have you not India! However the abeer for mixing in liquid and the scented powder were made in India. Here is my therefore made be a Trini ChinIndian contraption! :)

After mixing up my abeer and putting together the contraptions I drove to Tunapuna and listened to the kick off of the celebs on the radio-The SDMS's radio station Radio Jaagriti 102.7 FM. The main guest at the event was the President of Trinidad and Tobago the His Excellency Prof. George Maxwell Richards. The thing about him is that he is I think the first ever chemical engineer to become a head of state of any place and so was honoured by IChemE- The Institution of Chemical Engineers in the UK. He attended the University of Cambridge and used to teach at the University of the West Indies and was also the principal there for many years. He used to teach the dreaded Transport Phenomena courses and yep he also taught me! :) So was pleased to hear his excellent speech in many ways. I can't quote it and as I just told you I'm not a good roving reporter as yet but here's the gist of it:

He spoke about how it was admirable that the festival was being held even 164 years after the first arrival of Indians to the island and about how although the festival bore resemblence to the carnival celebrations that were just concluded it should be noted that it was very much a religious celebration unlike carnival. He spoke to the children about not being led astray in society and about being focussed and values and all of that. He lamented the absence of the High Commisioner of India to Trinidad at the event but noted that he had a prior event to attend to in Tobago and he had only just taken up his office in Trinidad a few weeks prior. He however noted the presence of Mr. Santosh Mishra at the festivities on behalf of the High Commission and his particular role in attending to matters of religion and culture while attached to the Commission. Those of you on the prayers here would note Mr. Santosh Mishra from my previous blog post on the launch of the Pundit Parasram School for Hinduism. Mr. Mishra also gave a brief speech. The head of the Pundits too was there-the Dharmacharya Pundit Utaam Maharaj.

President Prof. George Maxwell Richards

Pundit Utaam Maharaj-The Dharmarcharya

So by the time the speeches were done I was at my friends and they and this is how we looked before:

My friend was pretty excited to be going to the event as she had attended a SDMS Hindu primary school when she was young and remembered taking part back then- Chanka Maharaj El Socorro Hindu School. Here are some pics of us getting to the event from above the highway cross over (up high)

And as I told you my friend was really excited about her past school! :) So much so that she took a picture in front of their tent! :)

My old school was somewhere there too but I live right next to it so I literally see it every day! :)

And now I leave you to the sights and sounds...of various culture groups and the school kids themselves performing and playing and at the very end my friends and I at the end of it...not very coloured I'd say which is why I played again on Sunday not at any event but just at home with my nieces and nephew...and well I got more coloured.! :) One point to be noted is the girl in blue and gold outfit dancing with the Sharda Dance Company is actually deaf and dumb and I guess dances based on the vibrations she feels...and Mr. Sat Maharaj noted this and the girl was taken to meet the President personally! :)

The Sharda Dance Company

The Sangre Hindu Primary School

Me and the Neices and Nephew on Sun 15 2009....more coloured! :) Note the first bloom of my sunflowers...suraj mukhi in my garden in the foreground! :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jai Santoshi Maa! - A Film of Ultimate Surrender to the Divine Mother!

I've seen the 1975 Indian film all through my life growing up...seen it several times and the song clips. My mum now owns the dvd of it! :) I've often wondered though how people can be so mean while watching it...if I ever had a company slogan it would be "Don't Be Mean!" akin to Yahoo's "Do No Evil" perhaps! :) In this film there are some mean people and things being done to this lady...made me wonder growing up if some of the meanest people exist in India (but I think some of it has to do with resources per person so it is a matter of survival) alongside some with very strong faith in the Universe! :)

I never got when seeing this film why the ladies put the limes thingy in the lady's prayer stuff and why Santoshi Maa got mad in the first place...I mean isn't she all knowing so...but I guess the Universe works in mysterious ways and so pretending to be mad would have been to teach the meanies a lesson and to test the faith of the lady who did no harm...

Either way the film stands as an ultimate work in showing ones surrender onto the Divine Mother and it has one of my favourite offerings to the Divine Mother ever on its soundtrack...'Mein To Aarti Utharoon Re Santoshi Mata Ki' sung by Usha Mangeshkar, the song done in worship just before the meanies put the limes in...I also like the dancey sequence done here too it kinda makes you want to get up and dance with the ladies even the meanies...but why didn't they whip out actual mangeeras?:)...we used to whip out actual mangeeras when I use to dance...So I'm sharing that tune with you and some others from the film whose soundtrack is overflowing with super tunes in surrender to the Divine Mother! :)In the second tune-'Madad Karo Santoshi Mata' it is where the ultimate surrender occurs after the meanies put in the limes and everyone feels the wrath except the devotee but she is blamed and then the devotee surrenders...check it out! Although like with any real ultimate surrender it requires some tears...

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Surrender onto the Divine Mother!- Again!

On the prayers I've taken a break for self reflection and meditation all this week following the example of the supreme yogi that is the Shiv man! So I've not posted anything today to mark Nav Ratri...however I did take part in the prayers on a personal level...I realise I have a responsibilty to my readers to keep up with the prayers as it manifests and so for this I apologise but I can't connect to the dance if I dont also go into the cave...and recall that I did post about my surrender to the divine mother in the last Nav Ratri here and leave you with a link to this post on Intent by my brother in Universal Collective Prayer, Vashi Ram Chandi...

Vashi's post about Nav Ratri on Intent

See also my comments on the post to him where I note my favourite Ganesh aarti just for so that I will repost here as well along with the Durga Chalisa version which I listened to this morning and evening in my personal prayers...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Farewell- Shanti Maharaj!

While I prepare my Phagwa/Holi Footage blog I say Farewell today to Shanti Maharaj daughter of the pioneer Bhadase Sagan Maharaj and wife of the current president of the Sanathan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) here in Trinidad and Tobago- Sat Maharaj.

In Hinduism there is a form that is taken based on the duties you have to perform and if some weren't administrators and managers doing what must be done including not always being liked then somethings may never have been! And for that Hindus in Trinidad have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to Bhadase Sagan Maharaj and Sat Maharaj. Shanti Maharaj who is about to take the journey into the next plane was a supporter to both through her lifetime. Today all SDMS schools have been granted a day off by the Ministry of Education here in Trinidad so that staff and students may attend Shanti's funeral.

Shanti left the mortal coil on Sun 15 March 2009 admist the Phagwa revelry. Interestingly this marks the same date that my grandfather the late Pundit Parasram Maharaj left the moral coil too but 5 years ago.

So Universal Collective Prayer salutes you Shanti Ji as you make your journey onwards and we sit in soothing prayers with the Secretary of the SDMS your husband while you occupied the earthly plane and the rest of your family. May your journey continue to be filled with love and it's pure, clear light! :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Holi or Playful Phagwa 2009!

Poster done by my soul sister from Mexico Adriana Ochoa. She owns her own Advertising firm there.

This one's for my friend from the Intent community Alok aka Care Forall. He loves when I do the dance and he made a special request that I do something on Holi. He says although I've never even been to the subcontinent I've awoken in his heart all his memories of Hindu/Indian festivals. I've even inspired him to blog himself but he said you do the Holi blog cause well...:)

So this one's for Care as we call him for short...

Holi is actually called Phagwa in Trinidad as it is the Bhojpuri word for it and the majority of Indians who settled here in the 19th century spoke Bhojpuri. Holi or Phagwa is not only celebrated in India but throughout the Indian diaspora-Trinidad, Suriname, Guyana and other countries where Hindus live like Nepal and of course in the newer diaspora of North America where Indians started to migrate to in the 60s basically. Care is a member of the newer diaspora from what I gather...

Here is the summary of the exchange between Care and I on Intent that has led to this blog! :)

I wrote in response to his asking if I celebrate Holi in Trinidad and if I'd blog it:

"and care yes we celebrate holi here aka phagwa but for us it is less about the spring now as of course no spring in caribbean and more about the religious aspects...here it is strict no alcohol etc in the festivities...you have to appreciate however in the context that we exist in a society that has carnival just before...people have if they choose I guess many other avenues for release and partying in a multicultural society...so...we also have chowtal singing and of recent years a group had their own innovative creation of social commentary in English but with Hindi mixed...perhaps Hinglish if you like...something called Pichakaree...but yup we have the abeer and stuff...more the liquid is used here than the powder...but we have both...look fwd to your post...perhaps if I get less busy I'll post something too and get some vid footage of the festival as celebrated here to put up on my Universal Collective Prayer. If you write something of value I can share it on my blog too...with editing if I notice the need..."

Care Forall's response:

"For others the words used by Babita are translated as:-
1. Pichkaree( Its kind of a gun which fires water mixed with colours , it comes in all varities , i prefer the tradition one , the one used by Lord Krishna to color his Gopikas ( grl mates :-)) )
2. Abir : Powdered color , its mixed with little bit of intoxication too i guess
3. Bhang ( its a tradition drink made out by mixing milk , almonds , toxic leaf , flavour ) .

1. In the morning the wet holi is played with water colours ( you better wear your old clothes or something you dont love as that would be definitely torn ;-) ) and better protect your lovely cheeks and hair as that would be colored with all wet colours .
2. Then in the noon people take bath (it takes atleast 2 hours to take off those colors and it still doesnt go so fast )
3. Then people have bhang (drink ) , Chole , Jalebi , Dahi Vada ... etc etc .
4. In the evenig dry holi is played with powdered colour , men are dressed in Kurta Payjama and girls in whites too .

Bura na mano holi hai ( Dont mind guys as today is holi and we have the liberty :-)) ) thats what you can say anyone for all the fun you are having with them that day .

Babita i will prefer to read your article than write my own."

So you see I'm the anointed one! :) So blessed to be given the power of the Pichakaree...ahmm...I mean pen...I mean power of the finger tip to keyboard!:) But yep I'm the one who must write...

I can say that in Trinidad Phagwa is seen very much as a holy festival and here the Hindu rites are very strict in terms of Vaishnavite traditions I guess so no use of meat, fish, eggs or alcohol or bhang when taking part in anything involving mainstream Hindu rites. So our Phagwa has no bhang or alcohol use. It is in stark contrast to the Carnival celebrations that the island is known for in that sense as no alcohol use is allowed on the Phagwa playing grounds! :) And I like that I mean for me the dance that is Universal Collective Prayer should be done on a natural high which can easily be found no need for the intoxicants! :) But as I say to each her own! :)

When Care translated Pickharee for me he said about the gun used to squirt the abeer but here in Trinidad the Hindu Prachar Kendra under the then leadership of local Hindu icon Ravi Ji developed these special Phagwa celebrations that included a song competition called Pichakaree where the contestants sang on the ills of the society i.e. social commentary if you have it...sort of similar to calypso but with a Trini Indian slant usually incorporating Hindi words or as I was saying Hinglish even and usually focusing on issues relevant to the Indo Trinidadian that may have been particular to them and overlooked in the songs of the calypsonians who were mostly of Afro origin. I have personally been to that Kendra's celebrations once or twice when they were held and I'd have to say they were quite the thing! :)Hats off to ya for your creations Uncle Ravi Ji! :) Hope Geeta continues on...

Then the mainstream Hindu organization on the island the Sanathan Dharma Maha Sabha has significant traditional celebrations in their schools and on a national level. I've taken part in all of them at some point in my life. I grew up also playing mostly with the liquid abeer at home and have fond memories of when my grandfather the late Pundit Parasram used to lead a chowtal singing group! :) In the traditions the chowtal singing is in Hindi/Bhojpuri and usually songs about Ram!

Here are some songs of Holi or Phagwa all over the diaspora and that famous Bollywood tune thrown in for good measure! :)One of the songs is done by the SWAHA group in Trinidad which is another Hindu organization that promotes traditional Hinduism as was practiced by the people who migrated here from India in the 19th century. Happy Holi! Playful Phagwa!:

PS:The President of Trinidad and Tobago is going to be playing Phagwa with the kids at the Maha Sabha School in Tunapuna this Saturday and everyone is invited. If I get the chance I will go down and grab some footage to share! :) On the whole Phagwa is marked as a major festival in Trinidad and Tobago's calendar of events! Tourist invited!

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