By Jyoti Aggarwal, Steve Dawson, and Nidhi Aggarwal ~ Guest Writers
Students at the University of Lynchburg on Sept. 2, celebrated the Hindu religious ceremony known as a hawan.
A hawan, sometimes referred to as a fire ceremony, is a ritual in which offerings are sacrificed in a consecrated fire.
While hawan can take different forms, the ritual process typically involves kindling and consecrating the fire, invoking one or more gods, and making offerings. Prayers and mantras are chanted throughout the ritual.
While hawans can be offered for a variety of occasions or intentions, in all cases they bring purification and transformation to the individual and the environment.
The intention of this hawan was to purify the campus environment and promote peace and blessings for all students at the beginning of the academic year.
The hawan was organized by members of Garam Masala, a truly inclusive group composed of students, staff, and faculty. The mission of Garam Masala is to raise awareness of Hindu and other Indian religious traditions and Indian culture on the University of Lynchburg campus.
To the best recollection of all involved, this was the first time a hawan was offered at the University. The officiant of the hawan was the pandit (or priest) from the Shantiniketan Temple (located outside of Roanoke, Virginia), Sharmaji.
Participants in the ceremony shared a variety of responses. Some members appreciate the fact that the most essential items needed to practice this ritual are ordinary items that people seem to take for granted such as grains and fruits.
A retired professor of religious studies and theology remarked on the parallels between the hawan and some of the rituals practiced in ancient Judaism.
Other members enjoyed seeing people from their local community participating and becoming more knowledgeable about the traditions in Hindu culture.
As agreed upon by its members, hawan is important because it brings positivity and prosperity in people’s lives.
Garam Masala hopes to organize another hawan in the future. If you would like to get on the mailing list of Garam Masala to learn about upcoming events and keep an eye on our event-related emails, please email Jyoti Aggarwal at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A picture of Hindu god Lord Krishna and hanuman in the bottom were place on red chair for worshipping and decorated with various flowers and marigold plants.