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December 13, 1999
Holy Options For A Happy New Year
J M Shenoy
For many years, Simran Bajwa welcomed the new year with her friends and college mates. This time, she is checking out if she can attend an evening's worship at a temple in New York. She would like to be at a religious place where the evening's event will culminate in bringing in the new century.
"This is a very special occasion," she says. "I think it is a very solemn occasion, and I don't want to go around partying this time."
For those who do not care for champagne and new year galas, hundreds of Hindu and Buddhist temples, monasteries and New Age organizations are offering spiritual alternatives to partying.
Churches and Jewish temples are also planning special events to usher in the new century.
"We are putting behind a century that has seen the utmost selfishness, man-made disasters, natural disasters and wars," says Ric Ornellas, an American who embraced Buddhism after a trip to India over 15 years ago.
"There are many people who feel the need to reflect, pray and make resolutions about trying to make the world a better place.
"We lived in spiritual blindness for many years but we can at least make a serious effort in this new millennium to change ourselves -- and then, the people around us."
Ornellas might have liked to go one of the Buddhist temples in upstate New York, but many have no room. Their week-long retreats which will end on the New Year's day have been fully booked.
The new millennium activities at ashrams, temples and holistic centers could cost one as little as $ 50 per day, or, as at the New Age facility in Sedona in Arizona, $ 1,800 for three days. But there are also day passes which cost about $ 100.
Sedona 2000 is among the many New Age organizations that will hold holistic millennium events focusing on spiritual life. Private consultations, healing and blessings will be available for optional appointments.
The week-long Sedona retreat starts on December 27 with registration and a spiritual dance, followed the next day by a seminar based on teachings of the Dalai Lama.
Participating in the discussion and meditations are Buddhist monks from the Gaden Jangste Monastery, Mungod, India.
Among the authors who will participate in the events is Mark Earlix, whose The Art of Healing by the Grace of God, is one of the more successful holistic health books ever.
Dr Judy Bourget is offering a workshop on 'Alternative and Spiritual Wellness Techniques' and Linda Moore will conduct a workshop on 'Astrology in the Millennium'.
Buddhist monks will offer their own workshop, 'The Way of Compassion'.
For more information, contact Sedona 2000, (520) 284-5656.
At the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam in Sylorsburg, Pennsylvania, celebrations begin on January 1 at 10 am with a mahabhishekam to Lord Dakshinamurthy. Swami Dayanananda Saraswati will offer the blessings, after which there will be a banquet.
For information, call (570) 992 2339, extension 210.
In Houston, many activities are being organised at the Sree Meenakshi temple, starting on December 31. The new year's eve pooja begins at 1145 hours and a series of poojas will be held the next day, beginning at 0800 hours.
For information, contact (281) 489-0358.
A Satyanarayana pooja, to pray for an auspicious start to the new millennium, will be held January 1 at 1900 hours at the Hindu Worship Society.
For information, call (713) 957 4608.
The Barsana Dham ashram-temple complex, established by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati in Austin, Texas, will have millennium prayers and meditation on January 1 and 2.
The course will be guided by Sushree Meera Devi, president and senior teacher at the International Society of Divine Love.
"This intensive course is designed to uplift sincere souls looking for God-realization," she says.
"It is a rare opportunity to improve, develop, and conceive the consciousness of Radha Krishna love."
Among the courses offered is 'Transpersonal Unity', which she says is a course for complete relaxation of mind, soul and body.
"It is an entirely new approach that immediately shows its positive effect. The course includes a short speech, breathing exercises, some simple yoga postures, and an integral relaxation method through chanting," she says.
For information, call (512) 288-7180.
At the Hindu Temple in Flushing, New York, apart from the new year poojas, an auction is being held on January 1 from 1400 hours to 1700 hours. The auction offers an opportunity to buy saris, jewellery and other consecrated items for deities. For information, contact (718)460-8484.
The Chinmaya Mission is also holding year-end bhajans. For information, call (707) 247 3488, fax: 247 3422.
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