Monday, June 2, 2008

Minutes from Pujari Meeting, May 29th


On Thursday May 29th, a sizeable number of our pujaris met in the temple room following the evening arati. Chaturatma Dasa chaired the meeting.

He began by stating that as pujaris, we have many opportunities, as well as obstacles, in our service. The importance of communication cannot be overemphasized, because it can help us with both of these.

We need to strive for reaching the standards, and maintaining the guidelines we have set for deity worship. This training prepares us for serving Krishna. We actually have no access to the deity, but only through the mercy of the spiritual master. So when we go on the altar, we can offer flower petals to him first, and then approach the deity.

Twice monthly the Deity committee meets to address concerns. The members of this committee are: Kirtiraja, Haripuja, Nitai, Krishna Keshava, Indradyumna, Gandharvika, and Chaturatma.

We have so many pujaris serving in our department, which lead to many styles and flavors in our devotional service to the deity. This is an advantage, but can also be considered a disadvantage, since there can be so many ways of doing things. We need to standardize procedures so we can avoid problems.

Chaturatma outlined the new Guidelines For Dressing the Deities. (Note: to keep these posted minutes from becoming too long, we have made a separate post for these guidelines. Please take some time to read these guidelines, since there are many new items not previously mentioned.)

Following the listing of the new dressing guidelines, there was some discussion based on these points:

1. When painting the deity's face with gopi dots, be sure not to apply the paint too heavily. Heavy paint can be difficult to remove in the evening, and the rubbing needed to remove it can also remove some of the painted features of the deity's face. (Two tips were mentioned: Grating white chalk into the gopi dot paint makes the paint very easy to remove. And when attempting to remove the paint, you can moisten the area first, like applying a moist compress. This helps the gopi dots to loosen from the face. Be mindful of the devotees who have to remove all this in the evening.)

2. Morning dressers should inform the night un-dressers (either in person, or even a note is helpful) if there is some unusual pinning arrangement, or ornament fastening, to prevent damage to the deity or the paraphernalia, or injury to the pujaris.

3. Crowns can be used as attachments on the deity's turban if the crown is not too big, and it is done nicely.

4. In Mayapura, the pujaris like to make sure that Srimati Radharani's tikka is not placed too low on Her forehead. We should also be careful like that.

5. Training sessions are needed for those who put away the paraphernalia at night. Too many things are being misplaced. Even color-coded labels do not seem to help sometimes. Devotees need to become familiar with the paraphernalia, and take the time to sort it properly and put away nicely.

6. For the night dressers, it was suggested that some organization will assist in keeping the Lord's paraphernalia from getting lost or misplaced. Clothing and other cloth should go on one tray, jewelry on another tray, and flowers on a completely separate tray (Many items have been accidentally thrown away with the maha flowers!). Put tiny gems, like bindis and nose rings, in a separate part of the jewelry tray, using the blue-tac to fasten to the tray so they don't become lost.

7. For turbans for the little deities, be careful to not stick the deities with the pins, and to not put too many pins in the the wig (if you don't use a turban base) so that it becomes very difficult for the night pujari to undress. Also, be mindful of how many pins we are using. Don't use so many unnecessary pins.

Topics:
1. We need more pujaris! Summer is here, and there is a need during this time to find devotees who can fill in for those who may be traveling to festivals in the summer. We also need to train up new people properly, using a systematic training program. This training is very important. New trainees need to be supervised when they begin. When they have learned, they can do the service on their own. (Regular pujari meetings can help in this area.)

2. Next pujari meeting: July 24th.

3. Complaints. Who do we tell? We can find the pujari responsible and speak to them in a nice way. If we are not satisfied, or if the problem is not solved, speak to the head pujari (Nitai). The next level is the Deity Committee, and then to the GBC. But this process of communication, as mentioned earlier, is very important so we can resolve these issues.

4. Krishna Balarama installation. What's happening?? When will They be installed? The present situation is that in order to install Them, we need a solid plan which will address the need for: bathing space on the altar; dressing space; storage space; expanding the pujari room into the kitchen area; making new outfits for Them; and fundraising to make it all happen. But these need to be resolved first. Unless we have devotees assisting in these areas, and sizeable donations, it won't happen within the next year.

5. Chandan Yatra. This year we will celebrate it on July 14th. We need a month to prepare by grinding the sandalwood paste. You'll be seeing us grinding soon.

6. If you haven't signed up on the email list for pujaris, please do so right away. We're making an attempt to keep every one connected, so please help us keep you informed. Lokasaksini has started the blog for pujaris, and you will receive regular emails to let you know when new items have been posted to the blog. If you know someone who is not on our list, please encourage them to sign the list in the pujari room (on the cooler door), or by sending us an email message to: nrrpujaris@gmail.com.

7. Deity sewing. In order to come up with sufficient outfits, we need devotees who can assist. If you would like to volunteer, please see Haripuja.

8. Garland volunteers. Again, we often need replacements for devotees who are away during the summer. Please see Nitai to help out.

9. If you'd like to become a pujari, please see Nitai or Keshava to be trained.

Questions:
1. What is the standard for those who cook the Lord's offerings? It's been observed that some cooks eat breakfast, and then go right into the kitchen to cook. Answer: Cooks should not be doing their service in the clothes they have eaten in, slept in, or went to the bathroom in. If a cook needs to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom, the cook need to bathe and put on clean clothes before going into the kitchen to do his service.

2. Is it all right for ladies to wear "gopi dresses" (skirt with dupatta) on the altar? Answer: No. For women, the standard is a sari. For men, the standard is a dhoti and a chaddar. A pujari who goes on the altar, or in the kitchen to cook, needs a shower, tilak, and clean clothes. This is Srila Prabhupada's standard.

3. Is it necessary to put big blobs of blue-tack on the deity's wig? Answer: No. There is a nice article on the blog about this, with photos.

4. In the deity's earring drawers, the jewels are now fastened together with blue-tac, to make it easier to find pairs. If a pujari is only going to use one of the jewels, should they just put a single jewel back in the drawer? Or where should it go? Answer: We need to create a "holding box" for items like this. Put the extra jewel in the holding box, so when the devotee who puts the jewelry away gets the other jewel, she can match it with the one you put in the holding box. This should be introduced soon.

5. I want to cut jewelry or cloth, because I feel that it isn't the right size. Can I do this? Answer: Absolutely not! The Deity Committee plans the outfits and all the paraphernalia and jewelry to go along with them. No one has any business cutting cloth or jewelry. If you think something isn't the right size, and you feel and urge to cut it, always consult Nitai first. (An expensive sterling silver and pearl tikka was purchased in India for Radharani, and someone has cut it into pieces. Don't do this!)

6. I'm putting away the deity jewelry, and I don't know where something goes, and no one is around to ask. What do I do? Answer: This can often happen when someone uses something for another purpose, such as a tikka in a turban. We need to create a "question" box to put it these items, and another devotee or Nitai can help determine what they are and where they should go. Otherwise we end up putting tikkas in the box with turban pieces, and pujaris can't find the tikka when they want to use it.

7. Can we help train the devotees who put away the paraphernalia? Answer: Yes, all devotees need to learn the system for putting the Lord's things away, and we need to do this urgently. We should arrange a once-a-month spot check for the devotees, just to be sure that things are being put away properly. We need an experienced devotee to help oversee this program. Do we have any volunteers?

8. Do we have any Spanish translators? We can use a volunteer to translate this blog into Spanish. Any volunteers? Please send an email to: nrrpujaris@gmail.com.

In closing, thank you to all the devotees who attended the meeting, and who offered their wisdom, and special thank-you to Mother Pattarajni for making nice prasadam for those who attended. If you couldn't attend, we hope to see you next time!

1 comment:

Debra said...

4. In the deity's earring drawers, the jewels are now fastened together with blue-tac, to make it easier to find pairs.*****I don't think this is a very good idea for the small deities especially. The way Their rings/earrings are stored after a while it's going to be a big ball of blue-tac with jewels stuck inside. And I would hate to see the nice way the Big Gaura-Nitai's rings are stored now as a big blue-tac mess. Also blue-tac seems to be somewhat scarce on some mornings with it all going into one pin container so how will that work?
Thanks, Devaki