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PLACES OF WORSHIP

TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER

HINDU TEMPLE OF FLORIDA: 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; 5509 Lynn Road, Tampa, FL 33624; (813) 962-6890.

SHIV MANDIR: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday; officiating priests are Pandit Balraj Maharaj and Ram Maharaj; 2001 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33607; (813) 907-6311.

DADA BHAGWAN’S GROUP OF TAMPA BAY: Satsang every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.; everyone is invited; call Ramesh Patel at (813) 926-1143 or Mukesh Patel at (813) 969-1740.

JAIN SOCIETY OF TAMPA BAY: Monthly bhavna from 3 to 5 p.m. every fourth Sunday; also, non-Jains can take Dev Darshan of statues made of marbles by sculpture-artist from Rajasthan; 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.; both events at Days Inn hotel at Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75; call Kini Shah at (813) 503-0715 or Pradeep Bavishi at (727) 525-5400.

VISHNU MANDIR: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday only, discourse by Pandit Vishnu Sharma; 5303 Lynn Road, Tampa, FL 33624; (813) 654-2551.

SANATAN MANDIR: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday; 311 East Palm Ave., Tampa, FL 33602; (813) 221-4482.

SHRI SARASWATI DEVI MANDIR: 9:30 a.m. to noon Sunday only; officiating priest is Pandit Purnanan Sharma; 16220 Livingston Avenue, Lutz, FL 33559; (813) 264-1539.

SHRI RADHA-KRISHNA MANDIR: daily morning arotik at 7 followed by Srimad-Bhavatavam class; 6 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday Bhagavad-Gita class followed by prasadam; 14610 N. 17th St., Tampa; (813) 971-6474 or click on www.iskcontampa.com

BAPS SHRI SWAMINARAYAN MANDIR: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; darshan is closed between noon and 4 p.m. but reopens at 4 p.m.; 9226 E. Fowler Ave. (between Interstate 75 and U.S. 301); (813) 986-5473.

MANAV DHARMA ASHRAM: sumiran is from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. first Thursday of every month; satsang is 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, followed by dinner; yoga classes begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday; bhajans are 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every third Sunday; 7520 Caron Road, Tampa, FL 33615; call the ashram at (813) 889-7155, Himatlal Parekh at (813) 969-1661 or Ashok Modh at (813) 935-3439.

SHREE YAMUNA PREETI SEVA SAMAJ: Pushtimargiya Satsang Mandal invites Vaishnavs of Tampa Bay area to weekend Satsang sabhas and kirtans; 1340 Robin Road S., St. Petersburg, FL 33707; call Smitabein Patel at (813) 961-3816 or Himatlal Parekh at (813) 969-1661.

ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF TAMPA BAY AREA MOSQUE: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; 7326 E. Sligh Ave., Tampa, FL 33601; Tel: (813) 628-0007.

GURDWARA: 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. daily; 15302 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa, FL 33592; (813) 986-6205.

CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA (CSI) CONGREGATION OF FLORIDA: Worship services at 10 a.m. every Sunday at Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, 8119 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa, FL 33619; for information, call John Philip at (813) 986-6844 or Daniel Cherian (Anand) at (813) 985-9890 or click on www.csichurchflorida.org

ORLANDO AREA

HINDU SOCIETY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: 8:30 a.m. to noon and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32707; (407) 699-5277.

GURDWARA, SIKH SOCIETY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: 11:30 A.M. to 1 p.m. Sunday; 2527 W. Aloma Ave. (west State Road 426), Oviedo; (407) 805-0404.

MASJID AL-RAHIM, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA, WEST ORLANDO: five times daily prayers and pray on Friday; 4962 Old Winter Garden Road, Orlando, FL 32811; (407) 523-7882.

SARASWATI DEVI MANDIR/INDO CARIBBEAN CENTER: Sunday service is from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; all special days observed with worship; 1453 N. Pine Hills Road, Orlando, FL 32808; for information, call (407) 522-1988 or click on www.saraswatidevimandir.com

SHRI SHIVDHAM HINDU TEMPLE AND BRAHMRISHI YOGASHRAM: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily; 460 O’Berry Hoover Road, Orlando, FL 32825; (407) 380-2661 or e-mail ymcco@yahoo.com

SANTOSHI MA TEMPLE: bhajan and aarti first Friday of every month; 10900 Park Ridge Gotha Road, Windermere, FL 34786; (407) 996-2830.

SHRI DEVI BHAVAN: 9 A.M. TO 11:30 a.m. every Sunday; Pandit is Eshwar Persaud; 6206 W. Amelia St., Orlando, FL 32835; (407) 822-8057.

SHRI LAXMINARAYAN MANDIR: 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday; 269 N. Klondike Ave., Pine Hills, FL 32811; (407) 877-7916.

SHRI SWAMINARAYAN MANDIR (BAPS): 1325 W. Oak Ridge Road, Orlando, FL 32809; (407) 857-0091.

POINCIANA HINDU MANDIR INC.: 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each Sunday and on special festivals; 3999 Monterey Road, Kissimmee, FL 34758; (407) 873-2679.

ARYA SAMAJ OF ORLANDO: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday; Santoshi Maa Building, 10900 Park Ridge Gotha Road, Windermere, FL 34786; for more information, call (321) 284-1839 or visit www.aryasamajoforlando.com

LAKELAND(POLK COUNTY)

SHRI SWAMINARAYAN TEMPLE: 2793 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, FL 33815; (863) 682-8260.

ALACHUA (ALACHUA COUNTY)

ISKCON OF ALACHUA (International Society for Krishna Consciousness): founder is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, P.O. Box 819, Alachua, FL 32616; (386) 462-2017.

INVERNESS (CITRUS COUNTY)

SHIRDI SAI CENTER: 4707 Pleasant Grove Road, Inverness, FL 34452; for timings of the center and any other information, call (352) 860-2181 or e-mail shirdi@gowebco.com

JACKSONVILLE/ORANGE PARK

HINDU SOCIETY OF NORTHEAST FLORIDA (HSNEF): 714 Park Ave., Orange Park; for information, call (904) 269-1155 or click on www.jaxhindutemple.org

SOUTH FLORIDA (MIAMI AREA)

SOUTH FLORIDA HINDU TEMPLE: 13010 W. Griffin Road, Southwest Ranches, FL 33330; for timings and classes at the temple, call (954) 438-3675 or e-mail info@sfht.org

SHIVA VISHNU TEMPLE OF SOUTH FLORIDA: 5661 Dykes Road, Southwest Ranches, FL 33331; 9 a.m. to noon and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays; call (954) 689-0471 or click on www.shivavishnu.org

SHIVA MANDIR: 3000 N.W. 29TH Ave., Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309; for information, call (954) 735-3560 or click on www.fhosm.com

ISLAMIC CENTER OF BOCA RATON: 3100 N.W. FIFTH AVE., Boca Raton, FL 33431; for information, call (561) 395-7221 or click on www.icbr.org

SIKH GURUDWARA: 1600 S.W. 60th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33331; for information, call (954) 680-0221.


Send information on upcoming events to Nitish S. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647
or e-mail editor@khaasbaat.com
Deadline for submissions is the 18th of each month to be included in the next issue.


RELIGION
DEEPAVALI – THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
By PANDIT VISHNU SHARMA



Pandit Vishnu Sharma
Deepavali is celebrated in honor of three things. The first being the passing of the old and heralding the New Year based on lunar time measurements preceding the Vikram era. This day is identified as Amavasya (the 15th dark night of the month of Kaartick), which will be on Oct. 21, 2006. The second reason is in honor for bountiful crops at the beginning of the fall harvest. The third reason is the anticipatory longing for Hari-Prabodhini (i.e., end of chatur-maas).

Firstly, the New Year is a time when we reflect on the past. We analyze our accomplishments and learn from those experiences.

We wish for betterment and more success in the coming year. Secondly, the bountiful crops are a representation of our blessings and prosperity. It symbolizes all of our wealth. It provides for our nourishment and good health, from which we get Shakti (energy) to perform our duties and uphold responsibilities. These two situations are synonymous with all things that are happy, pleasant and prosperous. It is also a joyous time in which we gave charity, thanks to God in prayer and strengthen family bonds.

On this occasion, we personify and appreciate God in the form of the Goddess Laksmi. Why? Because She is the embodiment of beauty, wealth, good health and prosperity. She is called Shobha (spiritual wealth) and Sampati (material wealth). She is the source of Nau-Nidhi or the nine accomplishments of life. Narad Muni once described this as the night of Kowmdi (light of the moon) and Suk-Sukta (people sleep with happiness).

This is a special night for the Goddess. On this night, all the Devatas, led by Lord Bramha, pray to Her to come out of the Kamal (the 56-petal lotus flower) giving Her praise and recognition as Deep-Jyoti and Pati-Vrata. She had taken shelter in the Kamal while Her husband, Lord Vishnu, was in mahasamadhi for the preceding four months, known as Chatur-Maas.

As Deep-Jyoti, she would give light and happiness to the world. As Pati-Vrata (loyal wife), she would make preparation in anticipation of Lord Vishnu’s awakening from His mahasamadhi on Ekadasi (11 days later). In a dialogue between Narad Muni and Shounak Rishi, we learned that when she came out of the Kamal, She went on a journey to seek the home of any devotee(s) for the next 11 days. Narad said that She found the home of Satyasharma because it had the only lighted diya in the totally darkened city of Mathura. This was a blessing that Satyasharma received from Lord Shiva.

After this visit to the home of Satyasharma, everyone now became cognizant to the fact, that they must light up their homes and surroundings on this night, in anticipation of being visited by Mata Laksmi. In their belief to make sure that they get the attention of the Mother on this night, the people would place many many lit diyas around their homes. Hence, the word deep-avali, which means rows and rows of lighted earthen lamps.

There are four other celebrations, two preceding and two following the actual night of Deepavali. On triodashi krishnapaksh (the 13th dark night), prayers are given to the Yam-Devata in an act called Yam-Deep-Danam.This is done in honor of our departed ancestry. Also, on this night, prayers are done unto Maharaj Kubera (custodian of the treasury) by recitation of the Svasti-Vachan. This day also is known as Dhan-Teras. On chaturdashi krishnapaksh (the 14th dark night), we celebrate the victory of good over evil by praying to Lord Krishna for his destruction of Narak. This day also is called Narakasur.

On Amavasya (the 15th dark night), we celebrate the occasion of Deepavali by praying to Mata Laksmi. On pratipada suklapaksh (the first bright night), five sets of activities are performed. They are (1) Gokriyan – worshipping the cow; (2) Margapahli Bandhan – a tug of war game between the royals and the locals; (3) Vaman Puja – Lord Vishnu’s vistory over King Bali; (4) Goverdhan Puja – Lord Krishna’s victory over the egotistic behavior of Lord Indra; (5) Ann-Koot – Bountiful preparation of prasaad and food for the Goverdhan puja. On dvitiya suklapaksh (the second bright night), we celebrate the occasion of Bhratri Dwitiya or Bhaiya-Dwij. This is more commonly known as Raksha Bandhan, which represents an exemplary exhibition of a sister’s love for her brother.

Deepavali is celebrated with much pomp and pageantry. With the Swastika sign (for good luck) and Rangoli (attractive designs of decoration), every home is decorated with rows and rows of some form of lighted configurations. Businessmen pray to Laksmi for financial gains.

Youngsters indulge in dazzling pyrotechnics and we all exchange the “nutan-varsah-bhi-nandan” (happy new-year) greeting. Among all the religious celebrations, Deepavali is the only one that is universally celebrated by all Hindus. It has broken the barriers of caste, linguistic differences, geographic cultures and ritualistic dogmas.

Contrary to some popular opinions, Deepavali is not a celebration of Lord Rama’s return from his 14-year absence from Ayodhya. Common to both occasions were the lighting of many many diyas. Other than that, there is no relationship or correlation of one with the other. For further clarity, Lord Rama’s return was on Saptami Tithi, Vaishaka Krishnapaksh. Deepavali is on Amavasya Tithi, Kaartick Krishnapaksh.

The difference between these two dates is six months and eight days.

Pandit Vishnu Sharma is a priest at Vishnu Mandir, 5303 Lynn Road, Tampa, and can be reached at (813) 654-2551.






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