Honoring Life Transitions
Whether it’s celebrating a birthday, becoming a parent, receiving a spiritual name, or marking other major life changes and events, there are inspiring yogic traditions that can add depth and meaning to the occasion. Of course, almost all of these traditions include serving people food. That’s one way that we can infuse our prayers and love into the occasion. The wish dish tradition—make a wish and bring a dish—is a fun, divine way to mark many special occasions.
You have brought a dish. You cooked it or you stole it or you paid for it. You have one wish per dish, and you want that to be fulfilled. You have already meditated, purified, and intensified what you want, and what you want happens. All you have to do is to want it with a purity and intensity enough to create a reality. –Yogi Bhajan
Celebrating birthdays also has yogic flavor. The person whose birthday it is makes a sweet treat or even a meal and serves their friends and community, using their birthday as an opportunity to express gratitude for the breath of life.
The Birthday Party
By Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa
Whether you’re five or 55, your birthday always feels like a very special day. And that’s because it is! (Believe it or not, Numerology and Astrology confirm that each birthday is the beginning of a major cycle of change.)
What you do on your birthday sets the tone for the next 365 days. Your birthday is an opportunity to set good karma in motion for the coming year. Want good will and prosperity to come your way? According to 3HO’s Master Party Planner (Yogi Bhajan), the best way to start your special day is to provide something sweet—cookies or cake (I lean toward muffins)—to distribute after morning sadhana. Since we know that God is the ultimate Giver, being a giver helps us manifest the divinity which is our true essential nature.
When people say, “It’s better to give than to receive,” they are referring to the cosmic principle Yogiji knew and practiced so well. Although he was almost penniless when he reached America, Yogi Bhajan began giving as soon as he had even the smallest amount to give, and, as you probably know, he definitely thrived and prospered.
Remember, singing the “Long Time Sunshine” is the grand finale of every celebration that Yogi Bhajan orchestrated, including birthday celebrations. Don’t think of it as just a song, but rather as a powerful prayer offered for the honoree. Remember, “Happiness is your birthright,” so, have fun, and bless everyone!
120th Day Celebration
One of Yogi Bhajan’s major teachings was focused on the need to restore women to their rightful place of respect and dignity in society. He told us, “Any country in which woman is not respected is doomed to fail.” He was determined, according to one of his Women’s Camp slogans, to “Change Chicks into Eagles.” And he did! As part of that commitment, he taught us to honor a Mother-to-be on her 120th day of pregnancy. In keeping with the ancient understanding that Mother is the first teacher (we have four teachers during our lifetime), Yogi Bhajan explained that from the 120th day onward, the child is affected and influenced by everything the mother says, sees, and hears. It is said that Arjuna, the famous charioteer whose feats of bravery were recorded in the Bhagavad Gita, learned battle strategy from hearing conversations his father had with his mother while Arjuna was still in the womb! - Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa
On the 120th day of pregnancy, family and close friends are invited to rejoice. The celebration is to honor the mother and offer her loving support. Everyone gathers to meditate, chant, and reflect on the reality that a soul is entering her womb. This celebration also offers prayers for the woman’s spiritual, mental, and physical well-being so that she may inspire, teach, and guide her child. There is no defined criteria for this celebration, however, often the mother-to-be sits on a beautifully decorated place of honor. Throughout the celebration, the community chants, meditates, and shares uplifting songs. Often someone will narrate an inspiring story. Guests bring presents to personally honor her. They pledge to support and inspire her, so she can relax, feel secure, and focus on the child growing within her. The celebration is cozy and often deeply moving for all. The celebration closes with everyone sharing a delicious, nutritious meal.
Adapted from www.kundaliniwomen.org
Also see www.mrsikhnet.com
When your child was in your womb, you and your child shared physical functions, as well as subtle energies. You were blended in one aura. The separation of your aura and your child’s aura was initiated when the navel cord separates from your body. This can be a shock for both of you. Yogis recommend that a child remain within the mother's aura (within nine feet of her physical body) during the first 40 Days. Because of the child’s subtle sensitivity, a child is not left alone in a room during these weeks. If the mother needs to leave the child, then the father or another loving support person is with the child.
In many cultures around the world, the sensitivity of the new born is respected, and the child is protected in a supported, sacred environment with his mother and intimate family. There is a reverence of the 40 days after birth. Women are given the privilege and support to slowly and respectfully recover from birthing, and enjoy a cozy time building a loving relationship with their newborn. Today many communities have the good fortune to have supportive and well trained doulas who assist families create that sacred atmosphere during birthing or post-partum.
“He was inside where he was warm, cozy, and well contained. He came out and now he needs that touch, that feeling, that oneness within the nine feet of your aura. You are a modern woman. You want to go to a movie theater. When a child is born, you must stick with him for forty days and for two years you and your husband must keep him near the breast and the chest. That is the most darling God born in innocence to two people who believed in love.”
~ Yogi Bhajan, Women’s Camp, NM, 1989
Adapted from www.kundaliniwomen.org
A Spiritual Naming Ceremony
Taking on a sacred name can be a step on your spiritual journey that helps you leave past patterns behind, take a new direction, and embrace your spiritual identity.Making the choice to receive a spiritual name, and using it, is taking a rebirth in consciousness. It has positive benefits for you every time you speak it, meditate on it, or hear it. Many students find it helpful to transition to their spiritual name through the support of a sacred naming ceremony with friends and community members, such as the one described below by Shakta Kaur from Chicago, Illinois:
“As I begin the Naming Ceremony I welcome our guests, who are the family and friends of the students, and remind them of how strange it must have been to realize that their loved one had even asked for a name different from the one they were born with! Adjusting to the new spiritual name is often quite as much a transformation for the family as it is for the student.
I explain that a spiritual name is a “pran sutra;” a name that knits their prana (life force) with their spiritual life; that they are born with a pran sutra; that everyone is born with one. I explain that their spiritual name describes the destiny their soul is to walk in this incarnation. Each time they hear their spiritual name, it is a vibratory blessing that reminds their soul of the purpose for which they came to incarnate on earth at this time. It is also, however, their greatest challenge as well!
I call each student up to the teaching platform first by their legal/birth name, and then by their new Spiritual Name. I explain to the guests what the individual’s spiritual name means. It is usually at this time that head nodding occurs from family and friends who know that the spiritual name of their loved one/friend is right on target—that it speaks to the essence of the person they have known for many years.
It is our hope that with this Naming Ceremony their friends and family will begin to use the student’s spiritual name as well, or at least not be as unfamiliar with it as they may have been at first.”
Yogi Bhajan said, “Blessed are those who come to share the prayer of the young couple to send them with blessings on the path of life. The art and the start of their new life is an auspicious experience. They will be renewed by the memory of the beautiful moments of the wedding, in their love, romance, and togetherness through the years.”
More and more people are choosing to write their own wedding vows and ceremonies. Yogi Bhajan gave us guidelines that can be used to create a wedding ceremony based on yogic values.
The following are ideas adapted from a wedding ceremony conducted by Shakti Parwha Kaur that include basic yogic principles:
- Everything comes from God, and everything shall return to God. The purpose of life, the purpose of yoga, thus the purpose of marriage, which is the highest yoga, is to work and play with a human partner to achieve this Divine Union. “The one yoga of all is married life: a deep understanding of a woman, a deep understanding of a man, a deep understanding of human relationship, coordination, togetherness, coziness of the self, and the relationship.” -YB
- Marriage starts with a commitment unto Infinity to walk and grow together on a spiritual path, supporting, encouraging, and inspiring each other to your highest excellence.
- Today marks a new beginning. Marriage provides a fresh start; karma of many lives can be dissolved in the light of commitment to higher consciousness in marriage. Be disciplined and create a consistent spiritual practice together so that you have a touchstone of higher consciousness to keep you together, to remind you of your true selves, the purpose of your marriage and your lives.
- Feel the presence of the Infinite God everywhere, in every particle, in every sound, with every breath. It is in this state of complete awareness of the moment that one can have the experience of the Infinite while in finite form. This is true yoga. It is the purpose of life, and the purpose of marriage. Be grateful for each breath you receive, it is God’s gift of life. See God in each other. Recognizing the divine in all is the key to maintaining a neutral and non-reactive mind. When your egos flare up, and emotions surface, that’s the time to remember; each of you is a divine soul!
- This commitment is made now, for the future, and unto Infinity, that you will live for each other, not just with each other, and live with the complete focus that together you shall both attain your highest destiny. Know that your every act and projection has its effect upon the future. Live consciously. Never utter a harsh word, it cannot be unspoken. Never act in a way that you will regret. Live in kindness. Set an example in your home of harmonious communication, mutual respect, and love of God.
- Become a beacon of light, a team who can guide and encourage others to happiness. In this human form, a complete Divine Union can be experienced through a spiritual marriage. The more you love God, the more you will be able to see and love the God in each other. In this state, you have the awareness that you are a drop of water in the vast Ocean of the Infinite: indistinguishable yet unique, tasting the joy of complete balance.
How do You Celebrate?
Has your yogic practice and awareness changed the way you think about life changes? What kinds of spiritual celebrations have you experienced? Send your stories to Guru Tera Kaur.
Compiled by Guru Tera Kaur Khalsa, 3HO/Aquarian Times Editor
Mother, father, siblings/friends, Spiritual Teacher
 The last section of the epic Mahabharata