Happy New Year!
I spent this New Years Eve at the Guru Ram Das Ashram in Los Angeles and rang in the New Year chanting and meditating. I love participating in celebrations with other people of faith because it teaches me so much about how God loves all of his people and I love to see how they honor and worship him. The Sikhs are a family-centered religion, like ours, and I had several pregnancy and birth related experiences that I thought I would share. Here are some of my thoughts and observations from that night.
In the front of the Ashram, on an altar, under a beautiful canopy was The Guru-- their sacred book of scripture. I contains the words of the gurus (founders of the Sikh religion) as well as words from saints of other religions. It was a huge book that covered the whole alter when open and as everyone entered or left the ashram, they bowed and paid their respects to the Guru. They treat it and care for it as a living guru, and this was plain in the love I could see that each person had for that sacred text. It made me think that we could pay more respect to our own really amazing and sacred body of scripture.
People were coming in and out all night, and one family came in with a small baby and the mother put her baby down next to the alter so that should get all the way down on her knees an pay her respects. At first, it looked like she was placing her baby before the altar and I couldn't help but think of Mary.
After we did the chant for 1000 days and another for prosperity, a few different members of the Sikh community filled up the rest of the night by leading us in song. They played guitar, an accordion, and hand drums.
One of the women who sang, mentioned that New Years Eve happened to be the 120th day of her daughter's pregnancy. In the Sikh Dharma, they believe that the soul enters the body on the 120th day of pregnancy. And so on that day the whole community welcomes the soul. So, to welcome her granddaughter's spirit, we sang a song called Puta Mata Kee Asees, which is a mother's prayer for her child. It was a lovely thing to see everyone singing and praising God for the for this new child and it made me think of other welcoming rituals. It is also part of the Sikh tradition to spend the first 40 days of the child's life at home in peace and quiet and only receive visits from family.
I love learning about the spiritual practices of other faiths surrounding birth, so you may look forward to future blog posts about it. Also, if you have any experience with spiritual birth traditions, please share with me. I can't get enough of it.
Happy New Year again! May 2010 be filled with love and light.