By Swami Nirmalananda
We’re instituting a ritual at the Ashram for the new year — out with the old and in with the new. Having just posted the “Yoga Holy Days” on our website, I am adding celebrations of Western holidays to our Ashram events. Though they are rarely treated as holy-days, the sacred is present in everything, so let’s uncover it!
New Year’s Eve is a night of lights, music, connecting with other people and ushering out the old. It’s supposed to presage your resolutions for the new year as well. Our Ashram resident event includes all of the above, both the night before and the morning of the new year.
New Year’s Eve — review and honor the year
We are beginning with arati (candle flame ceremony) to Nityananda and to Muktananda, as we do every evening. For Nityananda, we chant Jaya Jaya Arati Nityananda, which is on Honored Guru Gita (available in our shop or on iTunes). For Muktananda, we chant Jyota se Jyota, which is available here.
For our New Year’s Eve ritual, we’ll use birthday cake candles with lots of different colors to choose from. Taking turns, we will each describe an event or experience from 2016 that we’d like to honor, lighting a candle for it. Depending on the number of people, you might need to limit the descriptions.
We will place each candle on an arati tray by dripping a drop of wax on the stainless steel tray and then holding the base of the candle in the wax until the candle stays in place. This tray will be placed in front of Nityananda.
Then we’ll chant mantra for 20 minutes or more, followed by meditation. The candles will burn out during the chant & meditation.
At the end, we ring the gong three times and end with OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h.
New Year’s Morning
Baba always said that what you do on the morning of the new year sets the tone for the whole year. Thus, we are beginning with an abhishek, the formal ritual bath of our Nityananda murti.
As part of that ceremony, we’ll also light personal candles, one per person, to set an intention or plan for the new year. A “Resolution,” you might say. Each one will hold their candle as they state their resolution. Then each uses their candle to do arati, as we all chant to Nityananda and wave our flames together. The candles will be offered to Nityananda, again placing them on the arati tray and letting them burn down on their own.
Please join us in our ritual from your home or with others who share your practices. Click here to send us reports of your experience of this ritual!
OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h