Hinduism, often said to be a way of life and not a religion, extols the concept of gender equality although the Indian society is sometimes accused of being patriarchal in its content and scope.
Ancient scriptures and teachings equate women to ‘Shakti,’ the embodiment and epitome of ‘Power’ and ‘Valour,’ while, Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of Evil is said to have given half his body to his Consort Parvathi, thus, each earning the names of ‘Ardhanariswara’ and ‘Ardhanariswari’.
The Goddess of Power manifests herself in several forms, not just as a colourful appendage to mythology but to establish the fact that women have the power and ability to deliver the world from evil and the self-righteous.
Such an Avatar of Shakti is ‘Durga,’ revered by her devotees also as ‘Kali’ and ‘Mahishasura Mardhini.’ She is the vanquisher of the hoodlums of the demonic world.
While the Goddess is worshipped throughout the year, special poojas are conducted to herald the Festival Season in general and Navaratri in particular.
It is in such a spirit that the Auckland based Shri Shirdi Sai Sansthan New Zealand Inc is organising its annual Mata Chowki Pooja on October 3 at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre located at 145, New North Road, in Auckland’s Eden Terrace from 4 pm.
The fact that Hindu prayers seek the general wellbeing of all peoples throughout the world is evidenced by events such as Mata Chowki Pooja.
At the core of the pooja is the belief that ‘People make communities and countries and world peace and progress depend on their wellbeing.’
True to the spirit of the event, Aucklanders Pramod and Indu Kapur will lead the prayer session with bhajans and keertans.
Sansthan President Hari Gangisetty said that as well as promoting the spirit of oneness and community prayer, occasions like Mata Chowki Pooja also enable the organisation to raise the level of awareness of Shirdi Sai Baba and that he embraced people of all religious faiths and beliefs.
The concept of ‘donation’ has also been prescribed in the Hindu sacred books.
According to Ved Vyas, “Charity or ‘Daan’ should be given at the appropriate time for the appropriate cause.
“We need ‘Shraddah’ (faith) and devotion to receive the Divine blessings.”
Sages and saints have said that people should allocate their wealth for (a) Dharma (b)
Donation (c) Investments (d) Satisfaction and (e) catering to the needs of the extended family and friends.
Sansthan Secretary Bhaskara Reddy Duvvuru said Mata Chowki Pooja is evincing the interest of the wider community in and around the Auckland region.
“It is growing from strength to strength,” he said.
Mr Duvvuru said the primary aim of the organisation was to create awareness of Shirdi Saibaba, propagate his ideals and teachings and serve the community.
“Since its inception, the Sansthan (registered in 2002 as a charitable trust) has been organising regular Satsangs, blood donation camps, tree-planting ceremonies, Durga Mata Chowki and Diwali celebrations. We have also donated money for the victims of natural disasters,” he said.
Mr Duvvuru said major programmes accrue substantial donations from devotees, helping the Sansthan to maintain a healthy financial position and purchase its own property for accommodating a Temple for Baba and other facilities for members and their guests.
Further details can be obtained from Mr Gangisetty on (09) 6305817 or 021-629 9226 or Mr Duvvuru on (09) 8469271 or 021-2923807.
Photo : Mahishasura Mardini