Spiritual Questions and Answers with Radhanath Swami

Why do we offer a garland?

By on June 14, 2014 in Insights with 45 Comments

offering-garland-to-guestQuestion to Radhanath Swami: What is the significance of offering garlands to guests in the Vedic culture?

Radhanath Swami Answers: It is tradition that we offer a garland to a respectable personality. It is an act of humbling oneself before a guest or an exalted soul. Prabhupad explains that in Mumbai there are statues of big politicians, and once a year on their birthday, people put up a pandal program and offer him a garland. It is an act of respecting and honouring his memory.

We sometimes get used to this wonderful culture in India.  But when a foreigner comes to India, and you put garland on him or her, they are shocked; such a thing might have never happened to them in their entire life! You are treating them like demigod, and they feel they don’t deserve such a treatment.

When my father and mother came to India for the first time,  when they got off the plane, our devotees put garlands on them.  They were beside themselves. Oh! Is this garland for me?! Really?! They had never been honoured in this way their entire life.  Within a minute about 30 more devotees put garlands on them and they didn’t know what to do! It was a culture shock for them.

Offering a garland is an act of respect. We are humbling ourselves to offer this type of reverence to another. Submission and surrender is actually the spirit.

 

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