Monday, June 2, 2008

Guidelines for Deity Dressing

Because we worship the deities in the mood of Laksmi-Narayana, (not Radha-Krishna), we need to be conservative in our dressing of Them. While dressing the deities, we should have a mood of awe and reverence.

General Guidelines:
1. Oils should NOT be placed on any painted areas of the deity, especially the face. Paint is adversely affected by oil.
2. Gaura Nitai dressers should coordinate with the pujari dressing Radhe Shyam, so that Gaura Nitai's colors and ornaments will coordinate the Radhe Shyam's.
3. The deity's eyebrows should always be visible. Don't cover them with turbans or crowns. His bow-like eyebrows are enchanting, and we don't want to deprive the devotees from this enchantment.
4. Artificial flowers were not approved of by Srila Prabhupada.
5. Coordinating fabric used should always have a finished edge (no raw edges). In addition, this extra cloth should not cover the beautiful decorations on the outfit. Keep the cloth to a minimum. The cloth should compliment, not overwhelm, the outfit.
6. Don't interchange jewelry between Radhe Shyam and Gaura Nitai or Nrisimhadeva, or even between the big deities and the small deities. Each set of deities has Their own paraphernalia.
7. When using pins, the pin points should always point AWAY from the deity. Be careful so that you don't poke the deity with the pin. Tip: Slip your finger underneath where you want the pin to go. That way you won't poke with the pin.
8. When making the turban, be sure that the pins don't protrude through the turban base underneath, and don't poke into the deity's head. Before you put the turban on His head, pick up the turban, and place your closed fist underneath and test to make sure that there are no pins sticking through. Important: Do this every time you are going to place the turban on the deity's head.
9. Unused strings should always be hidden or removed when you finish. You can use some blue-tac to put them to the side, and hide them. It is very distracting to see loose strings just dangling on the altar.
10. NEVER use strings to tie the small deities clothes, jewelry, or garlands together (so that the 2 deities are connected). NEVER use pins to connect the 2 small deities together. Because the small deities are moved (to be dressed, undressed, bathed, put in bed, etc.), tying or pinning Them together is very hazardous and can result in Them falling when one deity is moved.
11. Placement of earrings: Always place earrings on the lower portion (ear lobe) of the ear, not on the upper part.
12. Placement of rings: Rings should go on the fingers where rings are naturally worn. Don't put dangles (like earrings) on the fingers. Only use jewelry as you would a natural ring.
13. Evening dressing should be simple. No heavy jewelry. Crown, earrings, anklets (always, even at night!), a single strand of beads for necklace (and bracelets for Radha).
14. Tulasi leaves are offered to the lotus feet of the deity, in a garland (for Gaura Nitai and for Shyam), and in Radha's right (benediction) hand. Nowhere else.

For Radharani:
1. Radharani wear anklets all the time, even at night.
2. She wears bracelets at night.
3. Her feet never show, except on Radhastami.
4. No stick-on bindis to be used as gopi dots. They don't look nice, and the adhesive leaves a mark on Her face, and must be rubbed off. This rubbing can remove Her features, such as eyebrows.
5. Do not paint Radharani's face with gopi dots or sandalwood, except on festival days.
6. Her garland should not reach past Her knees. Down to Her waist is good.
7. Make sure She always has: a nose ring; a bindi; something to offer to Krishna in Her left hand.
8. Her benediction hand (right hand) can have a tulasi manjari, or a garland. No baskets in right hand. It's for benediction.
9. Her hands and fingers are VERY delicate and thin. Be very cautious when putting things in Her left hand, and make sure that you don't shove fat bouquets in Her hand.
10. Her veil should cover Her topknot.
11. Her hair should not be unnatural. Don't put large bundles of hair on top of Her head.
12. At least 50% of Her hair should be covered.
13. If She has a braid, the loose end should not be longer than 4 inches. It should not extend past Her left hand. She wears no more than 2 braids.
14. Her hair should not be loose past Her shoulders. (Tie Her hair in the back.)
15. Her chandrika always points toward Krishna.
16. Don't dress Her with a flying garland (tied with string) and dress swirling wildly.
17. Always cover up Her petticoat (slip). Even if it's pretty!
18. Her bangles at night shouldn't be big and heavy.

For Shyam:
1. His flute should be to the side of His face (not covering His mouth).
2. We should always be able to see His 3-fold bending form.
3. His bent leg should be visible.
4. He always has: flute, anklebells, and a peacock feather with an "eye."
5. Do NOT put jewelry in the space of his gold-painted tilak.. It is very delicate!
6. His turban should not be higher than the height of His face.
7. His hair should be even on both sides.
8. If He wears a nose ring, it should be on the right side (His right, not yours), or underneath the nose, but NOT both.
9. Do NOT paint gopi dots in the space between his eyelid and eyebrow! NEVER. To remove it also removes his painted eyelids.
10. His garland always hangs around His neck. Not from His waist, or somewhere else.
11. His garland comes between his chest and left arm. Don't put the garland (or necklaces) over top of his left arm. That style is not natural.
12. No navel jewelry.

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