Fire Ceremony or Havan
Havan is an ancient vedic fire ceremony.
The ceremony takes place in a special place for making fire (dhuni). In the warmer season, havans take place in the Summer Dhuni. It is an open structure, with roof but no walls and a fireplace (kund – a depression in the floor surface) in the centre. The Winter Dhuni is a closed room with a fireplace in the centre.
In course of the fire ceremony, sacred verses, or mantras, are being chanted. These are live addresses to different aspects of the divine, or forces of the nature. During the ceremony, a cereal mix (samagri), consisting of pure ingredients, is being offered as an offering. Usually it contains whole grain rice, nuts, dried fruit, but also flowers, raw milk and clarified butter (ghee), which have been carefully placed ready for the ceremony beforehand.
On the West side of the hearth, there are ancient symbols – yoni, symbolising the primal female aspect, and lingam, symbolising the primal male aspect. In the beginning of the ceremony, the ceremonial master performs a sermon, or puja, to the primal energies. On the West side of the hearth, there are also some sacred pictures (murtis) in the place of honour. To the right of the picture sits the ceremonial master who makes the offerings, and behind the picture stands the person who is chanting mantras. The participants sit around the fireplace. When making each offering, all participants chant together “Svaha“, which means “I offer (give away)“, “Let it be so“ or “I pray that it would be so“. Making an offering is a symbolic, conscious act which you perform in order to get relief from a situation that you currently have in your life. Before the ceremony, you can buy a coconut, symbolising sufferings and unsolved issues (the ego), as well as freshly cut flowers and incense from Lilleoru’s kitchen, which you can then use as offerings in the ceremony.
Fire ceremony is a very efficient way for liberating oneself from harmful qualities and praying for blessings for one’s well-being. Participants make their own offering open-heartedly, with devotion. It is important to stay aware during the ceremony. The skills for making an entirely conscious offering are acquired over time!
Participating in the fire ceremony is free of charge. Your donation to the performers of the ceremony (to Lilleoru centre) will help to ensure the resultfulness of the ceremony both for yourself and others. Such donations can be made right before the ceremony in the kitchen. The recommended donation for participating in a fire ceremony is 10 euros.
Here are some tips in case you wish to participate in the fire ceremony and in the light offering ceremony (Aarti) that follows:
- In case the fire ceremony takes place in the morning, it is not good to eat before the ceremony.
- Before the ceremony, you should wash all over, or in case there is no such possibility, at least rinse your mouth and wash your hands and feet.
- Clean, and if you like, festive clothes should be worn. Usually, traditional Indian clothes are worn – men wear an Indian-style skirt (lungi) and shirt (kurta), and women wear either an Indian-style suit (punjabi) consisting of trousers and a blouse, or a sari or just a simple skirt or dress.
- When arriving at the place where the ceremony is performed, a bow can be made to the hearth, to the sacred pictures and to the lingam and the yoni representing the male and female aspect.
- The direction of moving around the fireplace is clockwise.
- You should not let the soles of your feet be in the direction of the hearth (the same custom of showing respect is also valid for all other sacred objects- the altar, the Native American tipi, the fireplace, but also the ceremonial masters, spiritual teachers etc.).
- The offerings are made to the fire with your right hand, without using the index finger. As the offering is thrown to the fire several dozens of times, you should throw just a little each time.
- In case you have taken the coconut with you wrapped in paper, do not throw the paper towel into the fire. Also, morsels that have fallen on the floor may not be thrown into the fire.
- Women having menstrual period may not sit in the inner circle nor take part in giving the offerings nor light (fire).
- When one person of a married couple sits in the inner circle, the other one may sit by his/her side in the outer circle and touch him/her with her/his hand – this way both can benefit from the offering. Also, a married couple may make an offering of light together, which takes place at the end of the fire ceremony.
- The ceremonial master gives a sign to indicate the start and the end of making the offerings. The last offering is made all together, standing up. The last thing offered is the light. With the offering of light, the light offering ceremony (Aarti) begins.