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Viewing entries posted in 2010

Hare Krishna Questions and Answers website

15 July 2010 | 8 Comments | Tags: ,

I have created a proposal to create a new Question & Answer website for Hare Krishna devotees and need your help.

The proposed website will be built on the same software as stackoverflow.com, a hugely popular site where over seven million computer programmers help each other with difficult programming problems. On Stack Overflow the audience votes for the best answer. Answers with the highest number of votes automatically rise to the top, to be read first. People answering questions gain reputation from each "up" vote for their answer, encouraging them to answer questions well. I can see this proposed site turning into an equally amazing resource.

We need a certain number of people "following" the proposal before the people who run StackExchange see it as important enough to make it into a real website. So, please help out and click the "Follow It" button on this website and enter your email address:

http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/10537/hare-krishna?referrer=oBZN-v_zajmdB6M--FAu3g2

Please forward this to all your devotee friends and get them involved, so we can get our Q&A site launched very soon.

StackExchange Hare Krishna Questions and Answers Site

Detailed information about what I'm trying to do here:

The primary aim of the site is to give devotees a way to get good answers to all kinds of questions, as well as for more learned devotees to share their knowledge. If an answer is online, then google can find it and it becomes a permanent record for the future. That is much better than a devotee answering the same question over and over again on various forums. It is also better for the person looking for the answer, because the voting highlights what the best answer is, placing it at the top.

I got the idea for this kind of website after a conversation with another devotee. We were talking about facebook and blog controversies and the inability of devotees to do much about them. I thought about this a lot and had the idea for a devotee Q&A site that could address both local and global controversies in an authoritative way that doesn't look like it is just one person's biased opinion. A good answer on such a site will visibly have the stamp of approval from a whole group of devotees. Then, a few weeks ago, this StackExchange thing came along and did all the hard work of designing such a site for us. So, I'm very keen to take advantage of this opportunity.

To my knowledge every other devotee attempt at an online community either gets neglected over time, limited to a few hundred people, or has a confusing interface which is too bewildering. This is not any individual's fault. The fact is that building a website that people will use for valuable high-quality social interactions is very difficult. The best essay on the topic is this one "A Group is its own Worst Enemy"

http://shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html

The author explains in great detail why so many social websites fail. The StackExchange model is exactly in line with the principles recommended to make a site successful. It is expertly designed with identity (once the site is launched, anyone that contributes needs to have an identity and is therefore accountable for what they write - no anonymous answering), voting (the community polices itself), reputation (a way to identify those members of the community that are in good standing) and a barrier to entry (you need a certain good reputation to be able to vote to determine what is a good answer). All this means that a website based on the StackExchange technology can still be useful and manageable with millions of users.

Please help make this amazing resource a reality by clicking "follow" on the proposal and writing some good and bad example questions to go on the site. Bad questions are those off-topic questions that we don't want appearing on the site to keep the site focused on topics related to Krishna consciousness. We need examples of such bad questions in the proposal stage to define what the site will be about.
(sign up to the site using your Gmail or Yahoo email address - that is what is meant by OpenID).

Gaura Purnima / Golden Avatar Festival 2010 Photos

6 March 2010 | 10 Comments

The Golden Avatar Festival (Gaura Purnima) 2010 was held in Wellington last week.

I have uploaded the photos from the event to the gallery on this website. (Note that the photos at the start of this album are from a previous Krishna Fest; actual Gaura Purnima photos being after the "Golden Avatar: Rhythm & Dance!" display board photos).

View the photos here:

gaurapurnima2010

Spiritual Recharge Festival 2009/2010

15 February 2010 | 9 Comments

Every year Hare Krishna devotees from around Australia and New Zealand get together for an 11-day Spiritual Recharge Festival. Lots of feasting, chanting, seminars and association (and my wedding - see previous post). This year there were 130 guests at the retreat. The biggest ever! So much opportunity to meet many wonderful souls.

At this festival I also got Brahminical-initiation (the day before the wedding). So, I am now a Brahmana (teacher/intellectual) by Varna (occupation) and a Grihastra (householder) by Ashram (stage of life/shelter).

I took so many photos. It took quite a while to narrow them down to the 280 best pictures. But that process is now complete ... and here they are. Please browse them to your hearts' content:

Spiritual Recharge Retreat Festival 2009 2010

Gaura Haven photos

15 February 2010 | 6 Comments

Have you heard of Gaura Haven? It is in the Otaki gorge region (1 hour's drive North of Wellington, NZ). Lots of work has gone into the place over the past year. It is very beautiful and many new crops have been planted in the garden. I took a bunch of pictures of Gaura Haven and its surroundings.

Take a look at the wonderful natural beauty:

Gaura Haven  January 2010

Rotorua (and Huka Falls) vacation

15 February 2010 | 10 Comments

After my wedding my parents, wife and I headed up to Rotorua for a vacation. We toured the powerful Huka Waterfalls and visited the strange and wonderful volcanic landscapes of Rotorua (and had some fun riding down the "Luge".

Lots of photos of all that. Check them out here:
Huka falls and rotorua

My wedding (with photos)

15 February 2010 | 5 Comments

It seems about time I posted something on this blog. I has been quite a while. News of the moment: I have gotten married. On the 1st of January 2010 I, Candidasa dasa, married the lovely Visnumaya devi dasi. Or, if you prefer, our western names: Julian Malik Seidenberg and Susan Elizabeth Burrows (now Seidenberg).

Lots of great pictures from the event (thanks to Thakur Saranga and Sukanthi Radha for taking the pictures):

Candidasa Visnumaya Wedding

The wedding was traditional Vedic/Hare Krishna style. Here are some of the fun traditions depicted in the photos:

  • showering the deities with flowers (pushpa abhishek) and then showering those flowers over the audience and married couple to counteract any bad astrological influences
  • the groom leaving the wedding with his Bhagavad-Gita and umbrella to meditate in the forest as a celebrate monk (brahmacari) for the rest of his life (but being convinced otherwise by the spiritual master - representing the father of the bride)
  • exchanging garlands
  • tying the hands together with a flower garland and sealing it with water
    tying the couple's clothing together with a knot
  • a fire sacrifice (agni-hotra) where various grains, seeds and fruits are thrown into a fire to purify any bad karma reactions