Canadian Hindu Leader Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma Passes Away

Canadian Hindu Leader Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma Passes Away
By Karishma Patel

Mississauga, Canada (CHAKRA) – An important leader and pioneer of the Hindu religion, Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma has died. He was a prominent leader for Hindus in both Trinidad an Tabago and Canada. He was the one to start celebrating Diwali in Trinidad in addition to building temples, performing wedding ceremonies as well as taking trips to India.

He was 80 years old and settled in Canada in 1989 after many Trinidadians requested for him to live there. He lived in Mississauga and passed away on Thursday, March 1. A funeral with many attendees was held for him a few days later.

Sharma’s father, originally from the state of Madhya Pradesh, came to Trinidad in 1910 with his 12 year old son. Once in Trinidad, Sharma’s father became a certified priest and conducted many religious ceremonies. He had eight children of whom Sharma was the eldest. Sharma along with two of his younger brothers followed his dad’s footsteps and also pursued becoming priests.

Sharma was conducting his own public prayers and rituals by 1944. He married a woman named Badewattee Persad in 1962 and they had six children altogether.

He had begun to create temples by 1971 in Matilda, Princes Town, Barrackpore and Rio Claro of which one is the well known Moruga temple in Matilda.

Boodram Ramoutar, a close friend of Sharma said, “His family fully understood and supported his role as a pundit and community leader with little time for all else. One special aspect was that he was not driven by material rewards, and treated rich, poor, man, woman, child, young and old with empathy and respect. In Trinidad alone, he had officiated at 4,000 weddings and become the guru of over 5,000 godchildren after baptising them as Hindus. It is fair to say that Trinidad has become richer in Hindu traditions, culture, and spirituality by the presence and teachings of Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma.”

For the diaspora, Sharma organized the first tour to India in 1983 because many Trinidadians were more interested in their roots and where they came from due to listening to radio programmes as well as from watching movies associated with their cultural past.

His initiatives such as his visits to India increased the demand of people wanting to learn more about their ancestors, their religious leaders and temples. The Sathya Sai Baba following was one such example. He became so respected by crowds as well as a charismatic leader that Sathya Sai Baba himself requested to meet him and talk privately as well as give blessings to all Trinidadians that he represented.

Sharma was asked to address the opening at the first Diwali Nagar celebration in 1986 in Chaguanas. Hindu awareness was growing and thus this event since then became an annual function which not only drew Hindus but also people of other faiths who just wished to experience the auspicious occasion of Diwali.

Thereafter, on the island, every Hindu celebration began to be celebrated with high respect and grandeur.

Most Trinidadians who moved to Canada, Britain and the United States starting in the 1970’s and onwards all called Sharma to perform their religious ceremonies such as weddings, house warming’s and other related religious events that required blessings from a respected elder. Due to this increase and demand for him, Sharma and his family moved to Canada thereafter to settle in the province of Ontario.

In Canada, he started the Satya Jyoti Cultural Sabha while becoming more prevalent to Canadian Hindus at the same time, marking a presence of Hinduism in the Canadian society.

All levels of government in Canada praised and honoured him with certificates and recommendations for his service to the Mississauga and Canadian community as a whole. Pundit Jankie Persad Sharma had become Canada’s first swami and was also known as Swami Atmananda Maharaj Ji.

Chakra News Reference

Diwali 2009 – Festival Of Lights – Deepavali 2009

Diwali 2009 – Festival Of Lights – Deepavali 2009
2009: Deepavali / Diwali Will Be Celebrated On October 17th 2009

Diwali 2009 – Divali – Dewali – Devali – Deepavali 2009 – Depavali – Deepawali – Festival Of Lights – Celebration Of Light – Dipavali – Diwali Wallpapers – Hari Deepavali – Row Of Lights – Dipawali – Lakshmi Puja – Laxsmi Pooja – Naraka Chaturdashi – Balipadyami – Dhanatravodashi – Narakchaturdashi – Kali Puja

Blessings Of Lakshmi 2009 Divali

Blessings Of Lakshmi 2009 Divali


Diwali 2009

Diwali 2009

Diwali, or Deepavali, (also called Tihar and Swanti in Nepal) is a major Indian and Nepalese festival, and a significant festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism. Many legends are associated with Diwali. Today it is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across the globe as the “Festival of Light” or “Celebration of Light” where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over evil within every human being. The festival is also celebrated by Buddhists of Nepal, particularly the Newar Buddhists.

According to one theory Diwali may have originated as a harvest festival, marking the last harvest of the year before winter. In an agrarian society this results in businessmen closing accounts, and beginning a new accounting year. The Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth in Hinduism) thanked and worshipped on this day and everyone prays for a good and prosperous year ahead. This is the common factor in Diwali celebrations all over the Indian subcontinent.

In many parts of India, it is the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile in the forest. The people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (deepa), thus its name, Deepawali / Deepavali, or simply shortened as Diwali. South India marks this day when Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. In western India it is also in honor of the day King Bali went to rule the nether-world by the order of Vishnu. (There is another festival ‘Onam’ which is celebrated in Kerala around the month of August to mark this legend).

Diwali is celebrated on the first day of the lunar Kartika month, which comes in the month of October or November.

In Jainism it marks the nirvana of Lord Mahavira, which occurred on October 15, 527 BCE. The Sikhs celebrate Diwali for a different reason. On this day, the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, was freed from imprisonment along with 52 Hindu Kings (political prisoners) whom he had arranged to be released as well. After his release he went to Darbar Sahib (golden temple) in the holy city of Amritsar. There, he was greeted by Sikhs and many other people. In happiness they lit candles and diyas to greet the Guru. In India, Diwali is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith.

The festival marks the victory of good over evil, and uplifting of spiritual darkness. Symbolically it marks the homecoming of goodwill and faith after an absence, as suggested by the Ramayana.

On the day of Diwali, many wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks. Some North Indian business communities start their financial year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.

Hindus have several significant events associated with it:

  • Return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya: Diwali also celebrates the return of Lord Rama, King of Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to Ayodhya after a 14 year exile, and a war in which he killed the demon king Ravana. It is believed that the people of Ayodhya lit oil lamps along the way to light their path in the darkness. Since Lord Rama traveled from South India to his kingdom in North India, he passed through the south earlier. This is the reason why the festival is celebrated a day earlier in South India.
  • The Killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi, two days before Diwali day, it commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon who created havoc, by Lord Krishna’s wife Satyabhama. This happened in the Dwapar Yuga during this time of Lord Krishna’s avatar. In another version, the demon was killed by Lord Krishna (Lord krishna provokes his wife Satyabhama to kill Narakasura by pretending to be injured by the demon. Narakasura can only be killed by his mother, Satyabhama) himself. Before Narakasura’s death, he requested a boon from his mother, Satyabhama (believed to be an Avatar of Bhudevi – Narakasura’ mother), that everyone should celebrate his death with colorful light.
  • Austerities of Shakti: According to the Skanda Purana, the goddess Shakti observed 21 days of austerity starting from ashtami of shukla paksha (eighth day of the waxing period of moon) to get half of the body of Lord Shiva. This vrata (austerity) is known as kedhara vrata. Deepavali is the completion day of this austerity. This is the day Lord Shiva accepted Shakti into the left half of the form and appeared as Ardhanarishvara. The ardent devotees observe this 21 days vrata by making a kalasha with 21 threads on it and 21 types of offerings for 35 days. The final day is celebrated as kedhara gauri vrata.
  • Krishna defeating Indra: Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Lord Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their ‘dharma’ truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their ‘karma’, to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna’s life is mostly glossed over – but it actually set up the basis of the ‘karma’ philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.
  • Bali’s return to the nether world: In Bhavishyottara and Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Diwali is associated with the Daitya king Bali, who is allowed to return to earth once a year. However in Kerala this is the reason ‘Onam’ is celebrated. ‘Onam’ festival falls around the month of August-September.

Reference

Prosperous Diwali Greetings 2009

Prosperous Diwali Greetings 2009


Mandala Of Light By Joe Moreno

Mandala Of Light By Joe Moreno


2009 Celebration Of Light

2009 Celebration Of Light

Sathya Sai Baba: Deepavali means “the array of lights.” “Thamasomaa jyotirgamaya” (Lead me from darkness to light) is an Upanishadic prayer: This means that where there is darkness light is needed. What is this darkness? Sorrow, restlessness, loss, disappointment, misery and lack of enthusiasm are all different forms of darkness. To get rid of the darkness of sorrow, you have to light the lamp of happiness. To dispel the darkness of disease, you have to install the light of health. To get over the darkness of losses and failures, you have to usher in the light of prosperity.

Looking at the Deepavali festival from the scientific point of view, it should be noted that at one time in the distant past, our ancestors lived in the Arctic region (the polar region). In this region, darkness prevailed for six months. The sun appears on Mesha Sankranthi day (the sun entering the Aries sign of the Zodiac). The sun sets in this region on Tula Sankranthi day (when the sun enters Libra). In the movement between these two signs, there is an interval of six months. After the sun sets in Libra, the dark half-year starts.

Today is Chathurdasi (the fourteenth day) in the month of Karthik. It is Amavasya (New Moon day). The month is called Kaumudi. The people in the polar region used to start lighting their lamps from this day. The lighting of the lamp is not without other significance. As they would be in darkness for a long period, they described the lamp that was lit as Nithyajyothi (the perennial light).

It was on Deepavali day that Sri Rama’s coronation took place after his victorious return to Ayodhya from Lanka vanquishing Ravana and his Rakshasa brood. For a long period Ayodhya had been plunged in darkness when Rama was in exile in the forest. In the absence of the effulgent Rama, Ayodhya was a city of darkness. The forests were filled with light. The return of Rama was hailed by the people of Ayodhya as the return of divine effulgence and hence they celebrated the event by the lighting of lamps everywhere.

Nor is that all. Today’s festival is marked by other significant features. This is the day on which the Lord in His Vamana incarnation sent the Emperor Bali to the Nether World after He got the promise of three feet of ground (measured by the Lord’s foot) from Bali. Vamana (as the incarnation of Vishnu) used the gift of three feet of land to put down the Ahamkara (egoism) of Bali.

Deepavali is a festival which is designed to celebrate the suppression of the Ego by the Higher Self. Man is plunged in the darkness of ignorance and has lost the power of discrimination between the permanent and the evanescent. When the darkness of ignorance caused by Ahamkara (the ego-feeling) is dispelled by the light of Divine knowledge, the effulgence of the Divine is experienced. Deepavali is also the day on which Emperor Vikrama ditya ascended the throne.

If the darkness of ignorance is to be dispelled, man needs a container, oil, wick and a matchbox corresponding to what an external lamp needs. For man, the heart is the container. The mind is the wick. Love is the oil and vairagya (sacrifice) is the matchbox. When you have these four, Atma-jyothi (the Divine flame of the Spirit) shines effulgently. When the light of the Spirit is aflame, the Light of Knowledge appears and dispels the darkness of ignorance.

The flame of a lamp has two qualities. One is to banish darkness. The other is a continuous upward movement. Even when a lamp is kept in a pit, the flame moves upwards. The sages have therefore adored the lamp of wisdom as the flame that leads men to higher states. Hence, the effulgence of light should not be treated as a trivial phenomenon. Along with lighting the external lamps, men should strive to light the lamps within them. The human estate should be governed by sacred qualities. This calls for the triple purity of body, mind and speech–Trikarana Suddhi (purity of the three instruments).

The inner significance of Deepavali is to lead man from darkness to light. Man is perpetually plunged in darkness. Every time he is enveloped in darkness, he should light a lamp that is ever shining within him. Carry that lamp wherever you go. It will light your path wherever you may be. (Sathya Sai Baba – Diwali Discourse 1991)

Reference

Lakshmi Blessing On Deepavali 2009

Lakshmi Blessing On Deepavali 2009


Festival Of Lights 2009

Festival Of Lights 2009

Diwali 2009 – Divali – Dewali – Devali – Deepavali 2009 – Depavali – Deepawali – Festival Of Lights – Celebration Of Light – Dipavali – Diwali Wallpapers – Hari Deepavali – Row Of Lights – Dipawali – Lakshmi Puja – Laxsmi Pooja – Naraka Chaturdashi – Balipadyami – Dhanatravodashi – Narakchaturdashi – Kali Puja

For More Diwali Greetings and Deepavali Wallpapers, See:
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