Video by Sean McGinn
We were happy and grateful to welcome Faith House to the Bhakti Center this past Sunday, October 30th, the first event on the Faith House Bus Tour. It was certainly an auspicious start for our adventure through some of the most unique sacred spaces in Manhattan. Pandit, myself, and the Bhakti Center congregation welcomed 16 guests from different communities within the Faith House quilt for a morning of inspiration based in the Bhakti (devotional) tradition of Hindusim.
The gathering was made more unique by the fact that it was one of the first times we were hosting guests in our beautiful new temple space, which had just been blessed and inaugurated the prior weekend. The gorgeous new hand-carved wooden altar from India, along with the natural mud-and-clay designs of the temple walls created a unique atmosphere, a veritable oasis of the simple yet profound devotion of Indian village life in the middle of Manhattan.
We began with greetings and an orientation explaining the sacred nature of our space. I explained the science of the worship of our Radha/Krsna Deities on the altar, and their nature as the personification of the masculine and feminine nature of the Divine. I explained that Bhakti is a practice of devotion, and by our care of, and also study of the example of the divine relationship between Radha and Krsna, we can become perfect in the art of love.
Pandit continued to unpack the Bhakti tradition with a thought-provoking talk on death and the urgent need to know ourselves, and he also explained the main practice of our tradition, the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra (Hare Krsna/Hare Krsna/Krsna Krsna/Hare Hare/Hare Rama/Hare Rama/Rama Rama/Hare Hare), in which we connect to the presence of God through the chanting of His names.
This chanting also takes on a musical component in the form of kirtan, or the traditional musical worship of India. Our guests had a chance to taste the kirtan experience following Pandit’s talk, and then we all tasted a delicious vegetarian feast cooked by members of our community to round off the morning.
On behalf of everyone at the Bhakti Center, we want to thank Faith House for their warm spirit and company, and we are eager to host everyone again here soon.
All photos and video by Sean McGinn
View full set of 60 photos on flickr.com
This is a reflection from the first stop in a 5-stop “tour” over seven weeks.
See all details: www.faithhousemanhattan.org/2011/09/15/tour-bus-2011
From an experience of worship at a Hindu temple, to a Jewish Shabbat service, to a Sufi Dhikr at a downtown Dergah, to midweek “Space for Grace” at a major Protestant church – either as “Interfaith 101″ or an opportunity for seasoned pilgrims to be hosts and guests in their own setting and city – this seven week adventure will be a unique, New York City interfaith experience.
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