Here in Northern California, the sun sets later than it does back home. The glowing sunset over the ocean eases into finality around 6pm this time of year. A bonus to have an extra hour of daylight compared to our Toronto friends. Tonight the full moon shone brightly as the darkness settled over the valley. It made for quite the magical walk through the tall redwoods surrounding the Center and the Hanuman Temple. At 6:30am and 6pm each day at Mount Madonna, Aarti is performed in the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple. As explained on the wikipedia website, “Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when lamps are being offered. Aarti is not only limited to God. Aarti can performed not only to all forms of life, but also inanimate objects which help in progress of the culture.” It’s about a 1/2 hour ceremony that involves chanting, Kirtan, the blessing of a Tilaka, Prasad offerings, and lots of ringing of bells and joyous invocations.”
It was an incredible experience surrounded by the thick smoke of incense. I must admit, the smoke irritated my already angry throat which made for an uncomfortable ceremony at times with hacking coughs to accompany the ringing of bells.