For congregation members and families in ISKCON, deity worship at home has long been a major part of their spiritual practice, as well as a way to bond in service to the Lord.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, with people encouraged to stay at home, such worship has become even more central.
There has been a strong interest in ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry’s “Deity Worship @ Home: North America” online course, set to be the Ministry’s first formally structured online training ever.
Although all registrants worldwide are welcome, the first iteration of the course is scheduled to facilitate those in North American time zones – it will be held every Saturday from November 7th to December 12th at 5pm EST / 2pm PST. Next year, the Ministry hopes to roll out the course in different time zones around the world.
Deity Worship @ Home: North America will consist of six live sessions on the webinar platform WebinarJam at https://event.webinarjam.com/register/52/gnynqt62, with each session lasting approximately 90 minutes.
The course will be facilitated by Global ISKCON Deity Worship Minister Nrsimha Kavacha Das, North American Deity Worship Minister Jayananda Das, and ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry Facilitator Rasa Devi Dasi. The course fee will be $108, which will help support the Ministry’s efforts. There are no pre-requisites, with both newcomers and long time deity worshippers signing up.
The course will kick off with an introduction and explanation of the philosophy behind deity worship and the reasons for doing deity worship.
During the second week, facilitators will teach how to perform acamana, set up an altar, and invite the Lord into one’s home.
In the third session, they’ll demonstrate how to wake up deities and do bhoga (food) offerings. They’ll also discuss how to find a balance between one’s temple services and home worship; as well as how to have a functional, maintainable deity worship program amidst family and work responsibilities.
The fourth week will focus on the mood of worship, taking care of the sacred plant Tulasi Devi, and performing arati; while the fifth will be dedicated to bathing and dressing deities.
In the sixth and final session, facilitators will explore how to engage one’s children in deity worship, how to ensure deity worship is maintained while traveling, and how to put deities to rest.
Sessions will be a fifty-fifty balance between theory and live demonstrations of the various deity services by facilitators from their homes. Each will also include time for Q&A – students will be able to virtually raise their hand and type in questions.
For those who are not able to make it to every live session, classes will be recorded and made temporarily available so that those who need to can catch up.
In between each session, meanwhile, there will be simple assignments and assessment tasks, such as reading relevant sections of the scriptures and multiple-choice quizzes. Participants will also get to upload videos of themselves doing simple procedures like acamana to a special private Facebook group for teachers and students to share work and interact on.
“Then not only can the facilitators see it, but students will also be able to comment on each other’s videos, as well,” says Global Deity Worship Minister Nrsimha Kavacha Das. “We’ve found that giving each other feedback assists the learning process for them.”
Finally, certificates will be issued from the ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry upon successful completion of the course. PDF format certificates will be issued by default, while hard copies will be mailed upon request (for an additional postage fee when mailing outside of mainland USA).
The North American edition of Deity Worship @ Home, facilitators say, will be a pilot of sorts for online deity worship training. Next year, along with offering the home worship course in different time zones worldwide, the Ministry also plans to offer training for new temple pujaris in a similar format. Beyond that, they hope to provide education for ISKCON leaders such as temple presidents, regional managers and GBC members to help them understand their responsibilities in relation to deity worship.
The specific benefit to receiving training from ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry, explains North American Deity Worship Minister Jayananda Das, is that “students will be trained according to Srila Prabhupada’s mood and instructions,” and according to a worldwide ISKCON standard.
“I’ve often gotten feedback from devotees that they’re worried about not doing it right or committing an offense,” adds Nrsimha Kavacha. “Sometimes that actually puts devotees off — they don’t want to do deity worship because they’re worried they might be committing offenses. When you have knowledge, however, you can go forward with confidence that you’re actually doing the right thing. So that’s what we’re trying to do – to give knowledge based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.”
For more details about “Deity Worship @ Home: North America” and to register, please visit: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/52/gnynqt62
For further inquiry, contact Jayananda Das: email@example.com
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