The Mayapur Academy, run by ISKCON’s Deity Worship Ministry, has just launched a regional Deity worship school in Villa Vrindavana, Italy near Florence.
The school allows devotees in the Western World and particularly Europe to learn the knowledge, skills and values they need to serve as pujaris in ISKCON without traveling all the way to Mayapur in India.
The school’s first course started on April 11th and will run until June 9th this year. Students from across Italy and other European countries, ranging from young people in their twenties to senior devotees, have been staying in the beautiful rural Tuscanny setting of Villa Vrindavana to participate.
The students have so far studied units on astrology, Tulasi care and worship, and are currently learning jewelry making. Upcoming units include cooking, festivals, yajnas, turban making, and flower decorations.
Within these units devotees will learn such specifics as how to prepare a complete Raj Bhoga offering, how to perform an abhisekha bathing ceremony, and how to chant the various mantras used in Deity worship.
“So far students have been very happy with the astrology course taught by Sri Radha Govinda Dasi and Manohara Das Pandit,” says Villa Vrindavana head pujari Karuna Rasa Dasi. “Some of them called it a very clear explanation of astrology in Krishna consciousness. The Tulasi care and worship course taught by Visakha Dasi has also been highly appreciated by students, who performed an astounding welcome and worship of Tulasi Devi.”
The teaching team, who are all part of the staff at the Mayapur Academy and hold its diploma, have also been adding lessons on more theoretical topics like brahminical culture and ethics and how to properly approach the Lord.
At the end of the course students will get the chance to live the ‘pujari life’ for two weeks, and the brahmanas amongst them will be able to practically apply their learned knowledge in worshipping Villa Vrindavana’s presiding Deities, Sri Sri Radha-Vrajasundara.
“This is wonderful because it’s the first time Mayapur Academy is offering official courses outside of Mayapur, coming closer to the devotees who are not able to travel to Mayapur and stay there for months,” says Karuna Rasa.
“We are very happy to have the chance to offer this service, because in this way we feel better connected to Srila Prabhupada, to his instructions and teachings. We feel like we have the opportunity to serve our senior Vaisnavas at the Mayapur Academy, helping them to spread this knowledge, which is so useful to the devotees of our society.”
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