November 25th is observed as the International Meatless Day. It is the birth anniversary of Sadhu Vaswani who advocated non violence and compassion along with service to the downtrodden during his lifetime. His birthday is observed as Meatless Day and the movement has gained international recognition due to the sustained campaign by his followers. In India, four states Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh – have issued instructions in the past for the closure of slaughter-houses as well as butchers’ shops on 25th November every year, in their respective states. This is a great achievement and like all campaigns this change cannot happen overnight.
Long time ago if you mention vegetarianism, people would snigger and say it is the cult of the crazy. Mahatma Gandhi writes in his autobiography how difficult it was to find vegetarian food in the west. But now, thanks to health and lifestyle reasons people have started accepting vegetarianism as a way of life. Our younger generation should be convinced about the ill effects of animal food and more importantly alternatives should be introduced to them so that they understand that vegetarian substitutes are equally tasty.
At Kenya Veg Club we will continue to promote vegetarianism.
20th November is Africa Industrialization Day, on this occasion, it is so important to remember how much industrialization has helped to take our country forward. We need to train our women and youth in skills that are required to industrialize. This is very important and for this small scale units have to be set up and we should be able to achieve sustainable development. In our own small way if we support our local workforce, then that will see sustainable development in the region in the long run.
When we distribute seeds to local farmers and help them cultivate their farms and assist them by buying their produce for our own consumption, then we are helping the agriculture sector grow in a systematic way. Kenya Vegetarian Club is aiming at achieving this kind of development in the region. There is a vast potential as our land is green and there is always a need for locally made fresh produce. This will also help in the creation of jobs for locals and setting up of farming related allied industries.
Today is the twelfth day of the waxing moon (Shukla Paksha Dwadashi) of the month of Kartika. According to the Skanda Purana, the wedding of Tulsi with the Shaligram (sacred stone, symbolising Lord Vishnu) is celebrated today. The holy basil or tulsi is a symbol of purity and by wearing a garland of fresh tulsi leaves the Lord affirms that he will bless such devotees who are pure in their heart, in their word and deed and keep them close to him. Puja to Vishnu is considered incomplete without an offering of tulsi leaves. Tulsi vivah takes place on the next day of Karthik Ekadashi in all Vaishnavite temples. The festival also marks the end of Chaturya masa and the beginning of the marriage season.
Tulsi in Sanskrit means “unmatched” or “incomparable”. There are so many legends associated with the birth of Tulsi. During the Samudra Manthan or the churning of the Ocean, Dhanvantri, the divine Physician appeared from the ocean with Amrit or nectar in his hands. Dhanvantri shed tears of joy and when the first drop of his tear fell in the Amrita, it formed the Tulsi. It is believed that Tulsi emerged during Samudra Manthan. Another Puranic reference is that Goddess Mahalakshmi pleased with the devotion of King Dharmadhwaja and Queen Madhavi was born to them as their daughter and she was named Tulsi. When it was time for her to depart from the world, she left a part of herself as the holy plant.
The plant has medicinal properties too. Hindus revere the plant and have it in their homes as it wards of negativity and ensures positive vibrations always.
We love to celebrate in a group, celebrate life, celebrate festivals, generally congregate in temples for puja, bhajan, kirtan, discourse and so on. Buddhists, participate in group chants and meditation. For the Jains, congregating together is more a means to spiritual and karmic development through meditation, offerings, and prayer. Sikhs congregate in temples where they read and sing scriptures and listen to sermons. This is specifically called satsang, which is good company.
This is especially true outside India wherever Indians live. Somehow the community prayers and celebrations give us the feeling of being at home and enjoying festivals with our loved ones. Temples become a meeting point for such activities and we do not feel we are living in a different country. We recreate the same kind of ambience and prepare the same kind of food stuff that we would normally do on such days and exchange with our friends.
Another important point not to be missed during such congregations is if we involve our friends from the local communities, they get to see a slice of India which is unique and different for them. Many of them are so impressed that they plan a vacation to India.
This year we organized the Chopda Pujan at the Sanatan Hindu Union Temple in Kisumu where members from our community participated and conducted the group prayer. This is the first time this event was organized at the temple. It was definitely a special occasion for all of us.