Elliott had grown fond of Agnihotra. For his upcoming birthday (in 2017), he had asked if we could do Agnihotra after his birthday dinner. I thought for a moment as to how I could facilitate Agnihotra with a group of people, but I could not refuse such a request and I said “absolutely.”
On the evening of his birthday, I joined the group at a table outside at a restaurant in the city. I had prepared by packing extra pyramids, gomai, and rice offerings so others could make an offering.
It was nice to meet new people, but I couldn’t help but feel nervous about sharing the practice with everyone.
What was I going to say? How was I going to explain it? What if I was asked a question I couldn’t answer?
When a guest at dinner, Erin, asked about the fire ceremony noted in the invite. Elliott said it was Agnihotra, and Erin was so happy to hear we would be performing Agnihotra. She said she had practiced it before and loved the practice, and wanted to start practicing on her own.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear her response and was comforted to hear someone was familiar with the practice and really enjoyed it.
When we were nearly finished with dinner, I looked at the time and it was about 20 minutes to the Agnihotra offering. I realized I would need to start preparing for Agnihotra.
Some people were still eating and most others were leisurely socializing, so I didn’t think setting up to perform Agnihotra at the dinner table was the right place. I went to an outdoor patio around the corner began setting up.
I looked at the time and it was 10 minutes to the sunset offering. I went back to the dinner table and people were still socializing. I let everyone know that I was setting up Agnihotra and if anyone would like to join they are welcome to come.
No one arrived and I saw there were just 5 minutes left. I still needed to light all of the fires, teach people the sunset Mantra, and explain how to make the offering.
I went back to the dinner table and let everyone know that if they would like to join for Agnihotra, they would need to come now.
As people started arriving I began to light the fires in the various pyramids. Somewhat rushed and slightly out of breath, I began explaining how to pronounce the Mantra.
2 minutes left and I still had a couple of pyramids to light. Some people were coming in at the last minute and I recited the Mantra, asked them to repeat, and explained how to make the offering of rice.
With less than a minute left, everyone was settled in, the fires were lit, and everyone had their rice.
With my heart somewhat pounding, we all made the Agnihotra offering on time.
We sat in meditation as a group until the fires went out.
After the offering, I thanked everyone for joining and thanked Elliott for asking me to share.
I realized that I didn’t get a chance to explain the practice at all. I didn’t know how people connected with the practice or if they enjoyed their experience.
Reflecting on how it went, I told myself that if I were to do this again, I’d really need to get people seated much earlier so I could explain the practice and how to perform it, without feeling rushed.
As we were leaving and I was still reflecting how I could have improved sharing the practice, someone came up to me and asked me a question: “when can we do it again?”
I was taken off guard for a moment. It took me a moment to realize he actually enjoyed the session.
I thought about it for a moment. I said, “let’s try for next week.”
This was the start of my life journey to share Agnihotra.