Chakra Announcements

Gujarati Wedding In Spanish Fork


Posted September 2, 2006

So Much Service

This last weekend offered enough service to make one blow a gasket. We have a standing offer for devotees to come here to help out with tours, cooking, acting and/or computer work. We'll offer room, board, and an allowance. Must be fluent in English.

Saturday we had a wedding of Nepali Anuradha Pradhan and Tyrel Memmott. I set up the puja paraphernalia and then cooked for the usual large confluence of people on a Saturday. We did not have a contract to cater anything for the wedding, but I thought a number of the 50 guests would want to take advantage of the buffet while they were here. I was right, particularly about the groom, Tyrel, who loved the food.

The crowd was about half westerners and half Nepalis. The ceremony lasted an hour and a half. I explained everything in English to the satisfaction of the westerners.

The father of the bride came from Hong Kong. He was very religious. I could hear him mumbling many of the Sanskrit slokas with me. At the end he happily exclaimed, "I never expected any ceremony this good in America!" Tyrel, the groom, e-mailed me the next day.

"The wedding you provided was soo beautiful. I wanted to let you know that we did have a western wedding on the 25th as well, and I enjoyed the spirit and sense of peace that we had at the temple today over yesterday's wedding. Please don't get me wrong. I had a good time at both, but this temple wedding was so beautiful. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my father was very tired and stressed from all the planning of these 2 days that he was getting ill and needed some rest.

I was also wondering what I would need to do, if I wanted to volunteer at the temple in the future? I know I am not Hindu, and actually I don't belong to any organized religion, nor do I practice any type of free form spirituality but I always feel at peace when I visit the temple. I will be very busy these upcoming months, but I would like to find time to just come help a little bit.

Thanks again,

~Peace is in the serenity of the minds eye.

Love Tyrel and Anu."

Immediately after the wedding, my friends Neeta and Hiren Vyas arrived with a whole van load of other motel owners from St., George. I have been to most of their homes and motels for pujas, but this was the first time any of them had visited the temple in Spanish Fork. They had organized an expedition of about a dozen people and driven 3 and 1/2 hours to get here. We did aratik, some bhajans, I showed them the cows, peacocks, llamas, parrots. We did pradakshina around the upper temple verandah. They brought in from the car some of their vegetarian food, and combined with items I had cooked earlier for the buffet, we had a congenial picnic, everyone happy and in a joking mood!

I had to leave shortly before they did in order to go to another puja in Sandy (hour drive) at the home of Anjali, Abhijit and Nandita Das Gupta. The family invites us two, three times a year for Satyanarayan puja and kirtan. Gerald, Kim, Zack, and Jai Krishna always come and we have great kirtan and prasadam. Abhijit always plies us with as much mango as we can drink. Arrived back at the temple and to bed exhausted at 10:30 pm.

I sleep security in the motor home in the temple parking lot. When I look through the motor home screen door from where I take rest, I can see one of the temple octagons perfectly framed, often with a single bright star and crescent moon to the side. It is a soothing, sublime sight which is my last vision each evening before dropping off to sleep.

I couldn't get up for mangal aratik next day. The many activities of the previous day combined with the lingering soreness from having traversed hill and dale looking for Rama the Llama on Thursday (see last temple diary entry), left me feeling hammered.

I gathered the puja paraphernalia once again and presented myself at Days Inn just three miles away in Springville, 10:15 am. Suny Patel and his sister Pinky (Pinju) have been very good friends of the temple, providing free rooms each September to visiting dancers and musicians for the festival of India.

Suny's son Mitra was definitely ready with shoulder long hair, for his first haircut, called Mundhan. This is a special ceremony in which the child is shorn from all the hair which was with him in the womb. The cutting implements to do this are blessed and sudarshan the razor sharp disc of the Lord, is invoked. The ceremony includes a fire sacrifice and usually takes over an hour. Suny wanted a half hour version so I flew like the wind.

Usually the priest does not do the cutting after the ceremony as this hair is considered not pure, but I know people appreciate my doing it. So I covered my robes in sheets so as to not get the hair on them, and sheared away with the electric razor. Mitra was not the best nor the worst of all the children I have sheared. He cried and thrashed some but we got the job done in just a few minutes. Mitra was all smiles afterwards, apparently not unhappy, with his "chrome dome."

Many guests were there, having flown in from Kansas, California, Arizona. They would also be present later on for Pinky's baby shower at the family home in Springville. Today was a double header. Hair Cutting in the morning, Baby Shower in the afternoon.

I returned to the temple rather tired (I had gotten up tired that morning) at 1:30 pm to discover that nothing had been cooked for the Sunday feast so somewhat grumpily (ask Mikela) I set about cooking the feast.

Vai and i made an appearance back at Suny's home from 3:30 - 4:30 pm to wish Pinky and her husband Jagdeep, the best for their baby and to give a small gift. I chatted a while with the men in one room, while Vai mixed with the ladies in another. I asked out of curiosity, "What percentage of motels in America are owned by the Indians (mostly Gujaratis)." I had thought 50 or 60 percent and that is what I say when giving tours.

The answer I got, and it is based on a statistical survey, was 93 per cent of all the motels classified as 'budget' or 'economy,' are owned by Indians. I translated that to mean. "Ninety three per cent of all the motels where you pay less than $ 60.00 per night are owned by Indians, probably Guajaratis with the last name Patel (Patel Motel). Amazing how these people have come from another country, worked so hard and with such focus, and completely captured a multi billion dollar industry.

Vai and I retuned back to the temple just in time for the feast, attended by all familiar faces. I was able to give a nice relaxed Sunday feast lecture, not having to convince anybody, just talk devotee to devotee, "preaching to the choir." We decided not to have practice for the Ramayana (play practices are usually Sunday evenings after the feast) as some of the essential actors were missing, and even some essential parts, like Lakshman, are not yet filled. That was a small blessing for me, so I could go horizontal by 8:45 pm.

OOps. Spoke too soon. All the Sunday feasts guests had left, the lights outside and inside were extinguished, and the area was pitched into total darkness. I was in my night clothes, settled into the motor home, contemplating the octagonal dome and a sliver moon.

All of a sudden the headlights of one, two, three. four cars swung up the hill into the parking lot. I was up in an instant, adrenaline pumping, ready to accost vandals or prankster teens. But it was all the Gujarati families from Suny's home, having finished their baby shower celebrations and dinner, many of whom were flying out on the morrow, come to take their only chance of seeing this beautiful local temple. I rushed through the back door to don some devotional clothing, turned on the lights, opened wide the front door, and welcomed them as if I had been waiting for nothing else. We did aratik to the deities, sang bhajans, gave blessings. I guided everyone around the property. They were very happy to see such a wonderful temple in Utah Valley.

Back to bed? Not yet. Michael Covington pulled up with Rama and Dennis in the trailer. This was the first time Rama had been on the property since he and Dennis were rented 10 days ago. This is notwithstanding his 33 hours on his own in wilderness before we found him. I had to welcome this prodigal llama, who is so brilliant in his llama way, and whom we would have felt so depressed about losing, with our version of the fatted calf - a big hug and handful after handful of molasses coated grains.

Welcome home Rama, and, to all, a good night.

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