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The Hindu Festival of Maha Yajna in the Moscow Region

Corr: Christians, Hindus and Muslims took part in the ancient vedic ceremony of MahaYajna – the worship of fire. The ritual took place in the “Shri Prakash Dham” spiritual-cultural centre in the Moscow Region.

Prasun Prakash, event organizer:

We’re only happy to see anyone who wants to attend this event. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever. Everyone who’s interested and wants to know more about Hindu culture is welcome to come and watch, to explore a new world that unfolds here before them.

Corr:The ancient vedic ritual remains unchanged to this day. This is exactly how ancient Hindus prayed to the fire, 3000 years ago. People sit by the fireplace and recite a prayer that symbolizes peace and love all over the world. The ritual is formed in circles. The participants form groups and pray in turns. To the singing of mantras, they throw oil-soaked pieces of wood into the fire.

Urga Baiorunene, event participant: People have prayed to the fire all over the world for millennia. The fire is a sort of intermediary between our material world and the fine world beyond. Prayers by the fire were always done for a purpose. The purpose of MahaYajna is the blossoming of spirituality.

Corr:There’s a few rules to be observed when praying by this fire. You need to take off your shoes because you can only enter Hindu temples barefoot. Street clothes are not welcome either, but due to a rainy day, the participants were allowed to stay fully dressed. Women are forbidden from approaching the fire during their red days of the months, but this rule can only be enforced by the women themselves. You also need to take a shower after touching domestic animals.

Urga Baiorunene, event participant: All the recommendations for MahaYajna have a specific, deep and spiritual basis.

Corr: Urga herself lives in Vilnius. She’s been coming to Russia from Latvia each year for more than a decade. At first, she would come with her son and she admits that her relatives didn’t always understand.

Urga Baiorunene, event participant: They were mistrustful at first. They kept asking me where I was going, perhaps thinking I was in trouble. But time eventually set everything right. I haven’t gone mad, I haven’t quit my job, I’m not hiding from my relatives. Everything’s in order.

Corr: More than 300 people come to the spiritual centrein the village of Chastsyeach year from cities across Russia, Europe and Asia. Teacher Shri Prakash Dji helps the vedic culture followers unlock their spiritual potential. The spiritual mentor has been living in Russia for almost 30 years.

Shri Prakash Dji, spiritual teacher: I came here in 1990. In comparison with that period, today yoga, vedic culture and meditation, the whole Indian culture became a lot more popular here. I can feel it, more and more with every year. I really love this country. I would very much like to see Russia make not only material, but also spiritual progress. Russia and India should be more than strategic partners. They should also be spiritual brothers.

Corr: Prakash Dji says his teaching is aimed at helping every person learn to live in harmony with themselves and to activate the energy needed in life. It doesn’t matter that nationality, religion or political party they belong to. Denis Stepanov works in the Russian State Duma as an aide to a Communist Party deputee. But that doesn’t stop him from praying, while preaching communist ideas and doing medical business at the same time.

Denis Stepanov, aide to a Russian State Duma deputee: When one of my friends first brought me to Prakash Dji, about 12-13 years ago, I came to a festival that made me a little tense and even scared, being the Russian that I am. I knew nothing about Hindu culture. Everything is very loud and specific here. You need to be in India to understand India. Now, all these years later, I’m still here and I can see my life changing for the better each day.

Corr: The ceremony continued throughout the day. But the guests received not only spiritual food, but were also treated to lunch with Prasadam – a festive vegetarian meal prepared especially for the event.

Aleksandr Kononov, Ovanes Avetisyan, TV BRICS