Chakra Announcements

Shiva Ratri Wrap Up

by Caru das

Posted March 6, 2006

Last evening's Shiva Ratri had the maximum attendance. Congestion upstairs in the temple room, and downstairs in the buffet and gift store was just at capacity the whole evening. The crowd consisted of neatly dressed college students, Indian community members with their children, and families. Everyone took a lively interest in the proceedings.

We had good help throughout the day from Blake, Micela, Chloe, Stacey, Henrietta, Justin and Seema, all of whom came early. Together we were able to do considerable cooking, beautifully decorate the altar and the Ratha chariot outside, clean up hazardous icy patches on the verandah, and set up all the articles for the worship.

I was able to review and test drive all the multi media procedures which we used during the evening: the initial power point presentation (actually it's Keynote for Macintosh) was fed from my laptop to the projector. Blake moved the slides forward from the rear projected screen by hand. When most people went downstairs and outside for the chariot procession, I disconnected the computer, and put into the DVD machine a special collage of temple photos with sound track, just for those who didn't want to leave the comfort of the temple room during the Ratha Yatra. When we returned from the Ratha Yatra, I had to quickly change into the Arjuna costume, change the patch cords to my IPod for the "Shiva Fights Arjuna" drama. After the drama, it was a question of putting a microphone in front of the boom box. Blake and I didn't realize the microphone wasn't turned on and when we did there was huge feedback. Neda restarted her dance and all went well after that.

Then for the second drama, I put into the DVD player an IDVD movie which gave not only sound but images rear projected onto the screen giving context and background to the actors. Had to change the patch cords again for that. When the drama had completed, I switched to another IDVD movie which projected beautiful images of Shiva (no sound) while we were doing the puja, and chanting was going on. At the end of the puja, I went back behind the screen, disconnected the DVD player (projector will not recognize the computer if the DVD is hooked up). I re-connected the computer and opened a Keynote slide show with all 108 names of Lord Shiva (astotara), complete with translation, so everybody could follow. Again, these slides were forwarded by hand.

I believe all these multi media effects helped to give the festival attendees a much more deep rooted experience and understanding of our Vedic Culture. A wedding of ancient wisdom and modern technology, as Prabhupada used to say, Indeed, for me it would be inconceivable to execute festivals of this nature without the help of DVDs, digital projector, computer with Keynote and IMovie, IDVD, I Tunes, and DVD player, mixing board, microphones and speakers.

Imagine a local visitor with no background of Indian culture coming to such a festival at 5 pm for the slide presentation, and leaving at the conclusion, around 8:15-8:30pm. What an incomparable educational and devotional experience! Dance, drama, cuisine, architecture, live music, devotional worship and ritual with ample explanation and participation! Indeed, there is no need to imagine anything, as this is just the kind of feedback we get from visitors.

When we did the concluding abhisheka for the Shiva lingam with panchamrta (milk, yogurt, ghee, juice and honey) everybody lined up and took part. It was impossible at this point in the evening for anyone to be unaffected or stand offish. It was total participation.

Aside from Blake, Micela, Chloe, Neda, Stacey, Henrietta, Linda, Justin, and Seema we want to give heart felt thanks to all those who helped out. Alanath, Sandhya and the boys from Journey (headed by Danny Caldwell) manned the food booth all evening and sold tons of prasadam. Vandana, Shyam and Kusum along with Viksita's daughter manned the gift store which also did very good income. Ramesh Goel brought the panchamrta and provided valuable assistance during the puja. Manoj Kithany was able to join us one last time, and, along with Yogi, Ramesh, and Suman, performed all kinds of selfless services. Pragna led fantastic kirtans and bhajans all evening, as did Jai Krishna Das, who with a bronchial infection, additionally performed as Lord Shiva in both dramas. Nirnaya Lohani, in spite of a full schedule of classes at BYU and a 20 hour weekly job at BYU library, was kind enough to find the time to play Parvati with her great sparkle. Thanks to the regular crew of actors: Syd, Divya Drsti, Julio, and Blake, who overcame a lot of nervousness about his role as the Pasupati weapon.

I was unable to circulate downstairs near the gift store or food booth so others who helped out there whose names I did not mention please forgive me.

We always appreciate the presence of Dinesh and Kalpana Patel, who have been kind patrons, mentors and dear friends for myself and Vaibhavi since the dawn of the temple construction project.

Krishna states that if one claims to be directly His devotee, one is not so. Only those who are devoted to the devotees can render service to the Lord. We are overjoyed that once a year this day of Shiva Ratri comes around so we can meditate and serve this greatest of all devotees (Vaishnavanam Yatha Sambhu) and pray for his mercy.

For more photos of the event, click HERE