This was the scene in Atlanta:
It is Saturday around 9a.m after the morning program. Time for Mrdanga class with Vedasara.
"Where is Anuradha?"
"She is in the pujari making garlands..."
It is the Sunday feast night and you can see and hear all the smiles and 'haribols' going back and forth. It is 'socializing' time......that is prasadam time.
"Where is Anuradha"?
"Oh she is on the altar with Madhavi helping her do the evening service"
(Yup, Madhavi always maganged to lure me to help her on the altar even though it was not my day to do evening seva :) ......and i'll always be grateful for that!)
It is time for the Sunday night kirtans. And I would be scrubbing the altar or putting away necklaces, earrings as Uttam Prabhu drowned everyone in Mayapur mellows :) Oh I would also completely lose myself in UttamPrabhu's transcendental tunes......but I would be doing so in the pujari room as the holy names waft in through the doors.
(Shhhh....but it also used to be my excuse.... "Can you help us wash these pots?", "Nope, sorry, have to do the evening arati!" :D )
It was quite hard for me in Dubai initially. No temple. No Deities. What seva would I do? Now I realize my immaturity during my 'depressed' days. My only solace was turning to my second love - Kirtans.
When I was talking to Mandali recently in Chowpatty, she expressed that one of her realizations when she wasn't able to do as much deity worship in India, was that it was an opportunity to internalize deity worship. Women can't be on the altar doing abhishek, but who can stop you offering a manasa abhishek to Krishna?! :)
And I realized another aspect of deity worship! What I was doing as my 'second' love in Damodardesh was really just another aspect of my first love. So now, I regularly peform deity worship in Damodardesh. I regularly serve the deities - the deities of the holy name. Kirtan is a beautiful way of internalizing worship. Getting absorbed in Kirtan, meditating on his form with the holy name just engulfing you.... Staying in Damodardesh has opened my eyes to another beautiful form of the Lord - his transcendental name....
"Nama-bhajana is not bound by any rule—the holy name is beyond all virtuous acts—He is spiritual—He is virility and luster in a person. All the Vedas have been manifested from this holy name. The holy name is bliss, the holy name is ananda. We can excellently be devoted to Him. The holy name is worship and is to be worshiped; Your feet are to be held in veneration. "
Kirtaniya sada hari... :)