The Meditation Center's New Havan Kund
photo by Aaron Means
On September 13, 2009 several members of The Meditation Center community gathered together to consecrate the new sacred fire pit, Havan Kund, in the back yard of the Meditation Center. Emilio Bettaglio spearheaded the project with help and encouragement from Swami Ritavan, Pandit Dabral and Swami Veda Bharati.
Several volunteers met regularly this summer to build the pit, which was constructed in several stages. The proportions, size, and shape of the Havan Kund are derived from several sources including SRSG’s fire hut in Rishikesh, India, as well as the book Tools for Tantra by Harish Johari. The Meditation Center’s Havan Kund is approximately 3 feet deep. The dimension of the top step is approximately 3 feet squared. The 3 steps surrounding the pit are representative of the 3 gunas (qualities of matter): the Sattva step is top, Rajas is the middle and Tamas is the lowest step. Also represented in the 3 steps are the forces of creation, preservation and dissolution.
Aaron Means, Emilio Bettaglio and Manish Peterson constructing the Havan Kund, other volunteers not pictured include: Michael Smith, Michael Buss, David Alexander, Kai Stenlund and Lela Pierce.
The significance of this consecration ceremony was to establish the Havan Kund as a sacred shrine and to invoke the presence of Agni. With proper guidance and in the spirit of Ishvara Pranidhana, the Havan Kund can be used for fire offerings with the purpose of purification. In Swami Veda’s words “…the function of fire is purifying us…so when we sit on the fire, we are not only making sacred offerings, but also, burning our malas- our maculas so that we become immaculate.”
For the consecration ceremony, Pundit Dabral recommended that after the initial invocations, one mala (108 repetitions) of the mantra “Om Agnaye Swaha” be recited while offering ghee into the fire, followed by fruits and sweets. The crowd then recited 27 repetitions each of Akanda Mandala, Maha Mrityunjaya, Sarga Mandala and Gayatri Mantras while offering ghee and samagree (a mixture of sacred herbs and spices) into the fire. When the offernings were complete, Emilio tied red threads on everyone's rist as a remembrance of the event and everyone shared sweets with eachother.
Emilio Bettaglio, who revealed that he would like to do a lot more fire ceremonies in the near future, said, “We’re thinking about the full moon and doing Akanda Japa at the Havan Kund before the world wide 9 p.m. full moon meditation. Others who may be interested in learning more and perhaps doing fire offerings may contact me and I’ll gladly assist getting them in getting started.”
Emilio explains the proceedure for the ceremony and fire etiquette ie.) only using the right hand for making offerings. Swami Ritavan silently offered spiritual guidance to everyone in the crowd (photo by Aaron Means)
When asked the question “What motivated you to pursue the creation of this Havan Kund?” Emilio replied, “What moved me to build the Havan Kund is the wish to share the experience I had in India last year while doing fire offerings at SRSG. These were silent japa practices and fire offerings. I am eternally grateful to Swamiji for his guidance and wisdom and for the intensity of the experience. I also hope that others will be encouraged to go to SRSG to further their experience and participate in the fire ceremonies planned for the final offerings of the Ityukta mantra, February 2010.”
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