Religion and Culture: Sixty Five Attend First Presentation
The Gate City II Religion and Culture series was born out of a mid November phone call between Beaux Pettys and David Herman. The goal of the program was to raise the bar on Lodge presentations, to increase visibility by inviting friends, family and the public, and to provide education and exposure to worldly topics. The idea was presented to incoming Worshipful Master, Mike Bjelajac, who immediately embraced it and began promoting The Religion and Culture Series. With WM Bjelajac's efforts, Gate City II pulled together the January 27, 2009 presentation of Saivite Hinduism given by members of Kashi Ashram Atlanta. From the announcement of the event, all Gate City hands were on deck designing and making posters, posting advertisements, purchasing food, welcoming visitors, photographing, serving food, giving tours of the building, granting access to the library, setting up microphone and speakers, and handing out the programs.
The crowd was greeted with a meal consisting of Chicken Tikka Masala, Navratan Curry and Palak Paneer (traditional Indian dishes) all prepared in the hearty Nepalese style and supplied by Bombay Cafe. The food was certainly a crowd pleaser and delighted the most discerning palate. Even those who regularly dined at Indian restaurants remarked at the high quality of the meal. After dinner, the crowd adjourned to Gate City II's Lodge room where several candles were already lit complementing the warm red glow of the dimmed lights overhead. The Altar had been moved to accommodate a lectern and microphone as well as a table with pictures of the two guru's of Kashi Ashram. Draped over the lectern was a tapestry with the image of the Hindu God Shiva.
Worshipful Master Michael Bjelajac opened the presentation by welcoming our visitors and praising the good work of the brethren of gate City II. He turned the floor over to David Llewellyn, who gave a short history of Freemasonry, and David Johnston who gave a history of Gate City II. Afterward, Agni Ma and Saivite Wilson, of Kashi Ashram, were introduced and the presentation got underway.
The presentation covered a number of different topics. The history of Hinduism in general was discussed at length, by Saivite Wilson, including origins and beliefs. Agni Ma led the crowd in and out of two meditations. She also spoke of Kashi Ashram's Yoga and Meditation programs which are a part of Kashi Ashrams interfaith outreach where Christians, Muslims, Jews and people of other faiths are taught to practice some of the many universal elements of the Hindu religion. Worshipful Master Bjelajac thanked Agni Ma and Saivite Wilson for their fine presentation and informed the gathering of our next month's event. After the presentation, our guests were treated to a tour of the Masonic Center and a peek at the library.