Raghuraman

~ Reflections of my inner self ~

Archive for the ‘Hinduism’ Category

Live a spiritual life and enjoy living it

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LIVE A SPIRITUAL LIFE AND ENJOY LIVING IT
To live a spiritual life one need not run away from the world nor blindly follow unsolicited ritualistic suggestion, but we should learn the art of spiritual living. Every one irrespective of circumstances can acquire this valuable skill. Take small steps like regular prayer,meditation,reading and thinking positive and pure thoughts, working unselfishly for the good of others in addition to yourself, give a helping hand to the needy to bring a smile and cheer in to their lives, continuously upgrade your skills and knowledge can be some of the starters!!.
Start enjoying the beautiful and wonderful happenings that occur around you and realise you are also part of the same. Start your day with a smile thanking God for another chance given to you to live a beautiful day among his creations!!Enjoy the rising early morning sun in all its glory ,song of the birds and bees, fragrance of the  blooms, freshness growing plants and trees ,the clean misty morning air etc the list can be endless and it is given to you and up to you to  experience all! And we pretend we have no time amidst our stereo typed routine, not realising that when we want to do it may be too late!!
Sri Ramakrishna said that we should make time for some solitude and analyse your mind and motives, fears and anxieties, try and develop firm faith in God and resolve to experience His presence everywhere and in all his creations. Occasional withdrawal from active life will reinvigorate and strength our deepest core and help us to live life effectively and purposefully. So long as the heart of a man is directed towards God, we can be lost in the midst of wealth, position, power and worldliness and they can not affect you. Peace and bliss is what we create within us and should not be subjected to external influences.
Start practicing and you will never regret, for you are on the road to realise peace, good health and lasting happiness. The best part of it  is ,it is all within your reach all the time and nothing can stop you!!. So why delay!! Go full steam ahed.

To live a spiritual life one need not run away from the world nor blindly follow unsolicited ritualistic suggestion, but we should learn the art of spiritual living. Every one irrespective of circumstances can acquire this valuable skill. Take small steps like regular prayer, meditation, reading, thinking positive and pure thoughts, working unselfishly for the good of others in addition to yourself, give a helping hand to the needy to bring a smile and cheer in to their lives, continuously upgrade your skills and knowledge can be some of the starters.

Start enjoying the beautiful and wonderful happenings that occur around you and realise you are also part of the same. Start your day with a smile thanking God for another chance given to you to live a beautiful day among his creations. Enjoy the rising early morning sun in all its glory, song of the birds and bees, fragrance of the  blooms, freshness of growing plants and trees, the clean misty morning air – the list can be endless and it is given to you and up to you to  experience all. And we pretend we have no time amidst our stereo typed routine, not realising that when we want to it may be too late.

Sri Ramakrishna said that we should make time for some solitude and analyse your mind and motives, fears and anxieties, try and develop firm faith in God and resolve to experience His presence everywhere and in all his creations. Occasional withdrawal from active life will reinvigorate and strength our deepest core and help us to live life effectively and purposefully. So long as the heart of a man is directed towards God, we can be lost in the midst of wealth, position, power and worldliness and they can not affect you. Peace and bliss is what we create within us and should not be subjected to external influences.

Start practicing and you will never regret, for you are on the road to realise peace, good health and lasting happiness. The best part of it is that it is all within your reach all the time and nothing can stop you. So why delay. Go full steam ahead.

Written by admin

December 19th, 2011 at 10:40 am

Ayyappa Worship: A sustaining faith

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Every year, millions of devotees proceed on a yatra (pilgrimage) to Sabari Hills in Kerala during the months of November to January to worship Ayyappa.They practice a rigorous self cleansing program for 41 Days prior to the trip which is normally undertaken as group under the guidance of a senior member aptly called Guruswamy. A devotee takes a vow and prays either in a temple or at home to honor this commitment wearing the prescribed dress and mala (garland), going through both the mental and physical preparations during this period. It is a very special journey. The route is taken by walking through five hills for 4-5 days before reaching the base camp in the foot hills of Pamba. One climbs another 11 kilometres to reach the temple. The devotee then offers the Irumudi (offerings he has carried in a special bag) to the Lord whilst chanting his name Swamiyee Saranam Ayyappa (Prostrations to Swami Ayyappa).

During the preparatory phase all such devotees are called Ayyappas. A daily routine involves prayers both morning and evening, a visit to a temple close by, chanting of the sarana slogam and attending to group Bhajans (prayers) conducted in devotee houses in the neighborhood. The rules of vegetarian food, no smoking or alcohol, abstinence from sex, simple lifestyle, acceptance of your fellow human beings as equal and treating every living form of Gods with love and care are strictly followed. During such a self imposed programme one can feel genuine fellow feeling and empathy which is one of the greatest effects of the programme. A devotee attends to his other routines, such as his office work, as usual.

Ayyappa accepts all equally and expects all devotees to adhere to this belief. There is no difference or differentiation between people and therefore his temple accepts all. The special seasons are during Makara Jyothi and Makaravilakku, seasons in December and January. The temple is also kept open for a week every month. The lord is known by many names: Dharmasastha, Sabari Girisha, Sathgurunath, Manikanda. His yoga asana chinmudra posture confirms his protection, care and concern for all living beings in the universe. He is known to protect and come to the rescue of his devotees. During the yatra he is worshipped in five temples located at Achankovil, Aariyan Kavu, Kulathu Puzza, Khandamali and Sabarimalai.

The holy 18 steps leading to the temple is a great experience. His holy darsan remains in the mind of the devotee for a long time wanting and urging him to take another trip during the next season, so strong and powerful is the effect. This faith and belief helps in driving away negative thoughts and brings in positive vibrations to the betterment of all.

Written by admin

June 1st, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Hinduism

Anjaneeya worship: Faith and Strength

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In India, Anjaneeya is known by many names including  Hanuman,  Maruthi, Vavuputhra and Anjanai Kumara. He is worshipped all over India and the world as a God to whom you can pray for solutions and relief for problems. Most Hindu temples will have special place for Hanuman. He is an embodiment of great devotion, strength, intelligence and courage. He plays a very important role in many places in the great Epic Ramayana . The verses in the book Sundarakandam  describes  in detail how he successfully flew across an ocean to locate Goddess Sita and bring the good news to his Lord Sri RAMA .

There are many famous temples for him. In Chennai we have Nanganallur temple, on the way to Pondicherry we have  Panchavadi temple, near salem in Namakkal  there is a famous Anjaneeyar temple and near Tirunelveli at Suchidram we have another  Anjaneeyar temple. In Delhi, on the  Poosa road, there is a 108 feet high statue temple and another  near Vijayawada, Mumbai chembur. The list goes on and on….

In north India most households will have  the book: Hanuman Chalisa. This is a text for chanting every day, of which two cartoon CDs have been made in India and are very popular. In the US an attempt is being made to make a full length movie on Hanuman by Sri Uru Patel with actor Keanu Reeves playing the lead role. His picture is also displayed prominently in gyms!

It is said that Hanuman is the most poular and sought after God on the internet. Sri Krishna and Sri Vinayaka have over 8.45 and 7.64 lacs devotees/supporters respectively. There is a record 26.8 lac people who are Hanuman’s devotees and the number is increasing…..

Prayers seeking his support give courage, strength and direction to his devotees. He is available at all times to the needy and distressed, rich and poor and all are equal to him. All he asks from you is true and sincere selfless devotion.  One can find devotees praying with Tulsi leaves, flowers and garlands made out of Sri Ram writings, fruits, honey and grains as offerings.

Many all over the world have experienced the positive vibrations and strength derived from His worship. There is an increasingly long list. People in India are happy to know that the President of the United States, Mr Barack Hussein Obama, is also a devotee and carries a small idol with him at all times.

Written by Raghuraman

July 2nd, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Hinduism

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Hindu Marriage: Tradition and Rationale

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The tenets of the Hindu marriage, its conduct, procedures and styles are explicitly laid down in the Vedas. The Hindu wedding is a balanced blending of religion, morality, culture and joy, making it a memorable event. The Vedic rituals solemnise the marriage while indoctrinating the specified duties of the couple through life. The rituals are symbolic of beautiful and noble sentiments.

The following lines go some way to explaining the significance of this important ritual:

GANAPATHI POOJA: The God of initiation is invoked first to keep away all impediments and for a smooth conduct of proceedings. This is followed by Navagra pooja.

VRATHAM: This is performed with invocations to various Gods: Indra, Soma, Chandra, Agni, with a vow to uphold values. This is followed by Kasi yatra.

VAKKKU NICHAY MUHURTHAM: The bride’s father and groom’s father solemnize the final betrothal ceremony.

This is followed by exchanging of garlands to symbolize the union of bride and groom. Then there is OONJAL, PAALIKAI SEEDS SOWING CEREMONY, VARA PUJA and Kanya Dhanam (father gives the bride to the groom). The bride will now wear an exclusive KOORAI sari with a belt of reed grass. Mantras and thanks giving hymns are chanted to deities. The father gets a word of assurance from the groom three times!

MANGALYA DHARANAM: Timed to the auspicious hour, the tying of Managala sutra (also called thali), with a back ground of loud Nadaswaram (called ketty molam), ladies sing the popular GOWRI KALYANA VAIBHOVAMAY. Three knots are tied: one by the groom and the remaining two knots by his sister, thereby welcoming the bride to the family.

This is followed by Pani grahanam and sapthapathi. This is walking seven steps around the fire while mantras are chanted. It is a confirmation of friendship, love, strength and, taste to live together inseparable for rest of their lives.

PRADHANA HOMAM: Homage paid by the couple to Agni, the fire GOD, a prime witness to the marriage. Then comes a treading on the grind stone, showing the star arundhathi (embodiment of an ideal wife and chastity), next LAJJJA HOMAM (brides offering to sacrificial fire) followed by AARATHI.

SHOWERING OF AKSHADAI: All elders and invitees bless the couple for their health, wealth, peace, love, joy and happiness.

Written by Raghuraman

July 2nd, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Hinduism, Indian Culture

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Spiritual Experiences: Haridwar and Rishikesh

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A train journey of about 42 hours, covering 5 states, took us north from Chennai to Haridwar. Rishikesh is one hour from Haridwar and further up is the Capital of Utterkand State: Dehradun. Delhi is a further 4 hour drive from Haridwar. Both Rishikesh and Haridwar are border areas and entry points for the famous Pilgrim yatra to Kedarnath and Badrinath. The river Ganga, originating from Gangaothri, flows through these towns which makes these places serene and much sought after tourist holy destinations. Ganga is worshipped as a provider, supporter and caring mother. The perennial flowing river calms down our agitated minds to elevate us to a state of peace and tranquility. The holy waters are carried back home and distributed to near and dear ones.

Many spiritual leaders have settled down here on the banks of the Ganga to establish centres of learning, Ashrams. There is Chinmaya ashram, Swami Sivanandha ashram, Swami Dyanandha Ashram, Pathajali Ashram and up to fifteen more. These are residential campuses wherein disciples of masters continue the great work. They are today centres of culture and tradition. Accommodation is offered to visitors but one needs to book in advance as there is a waiting list year round.

The towns are full of small narrow by lanes. Mostly three-wheelers run on these roads alongside cycle rickshaws. Everywhere we can witness a clean environment and simple lifestyles. Vegetarian food is available in road side eateries called Dhabas who offer fresh hot rotis, dhall and vegetables at unbelievable low prices (attracting every tourist). The local population is made of mostly shop keepers, traders and artisans. They sell products and wares to the tourists who come here almost every month excluding the rainy season. Being a tourist location there are many tourist/taxi operators and hotels on the river front catering to various budgets.

We had requested accommodation at Swami Dyanada Ashram and we were very happy to get our confirmation for a weeks stay. The Ashram is housed in an area of 5 acre of land in plenty of greenery with over 5 residential blocks and 250 rooms. There is a prayer/mediation hall, a beautiful temple on the banks of river, a dining room (to seat over 300) Visitors are treated with access to a very good library having an excellent collection of sacred old books in Sanskrit, Hindi and English which are available on CDs and DVDs. There is a lovely shop selling books written By Swami Dyanadha with lectures available on CDs and DVDs. There are also rudraksha malas, special chains rings made of 5 metals, wall hangings, useful items for a prayer room, wall decorations and a host of other unique items.

Our day starts at 4 am to go and attend temple pooja in the ashram temple right located in front of the river Ganga. Besides the main deity Siva, there are smaller temples for Ganapathy, Adisankaa, Hanuman and Jyothir lingams. It is a beautiful, white marble structure very clean and very well maintained with poojas and chanting performed in the traditional style.

We are given an early break fast so that we can attend the lectures and classes conducted by teachers in the ashram. After lunch we have free time for interactive sessions, library, reading or personal work. We then go for a river bath in Ganga (ice cold water flows even at 4 pm)- no soap, oil, or shampoo and all one needs is a towel and a change of clothes. The river is so pure and Divine, an ideal location for prayer and meditation, and generally reflect upon oneself in total silence. Many offer obeisance for departed souls in the family. We attend an evening prayers session by 6.30 pm and a special aarthi on the river front for matha Ganga. We participate with awe, admiration and total surrender. After an early simple dinner we retire, not before a stroll in the green woods and cool gardens full of flowering shrubs.

We made trips to the hill temple of Neelakanda Mahadev housing a beautiful swayamboo lingam of Siva. We are allowed to perform abisheham ourselves with milk and holy waters. It is said a visit to this temple is a cure for illness and a salvation for our misdeeds. We also visited the Ram and Lakshman Jula at Haridhwar for a feel of Haridwar which is known for temples and its markets. We also attended the famous Ganga Aathi at Triveni ghat, a great sight and a evening to remember all our lives. We  joined a special group and were allotted a priest to our aarthi, for our family, and received Prasad afterwards. A very satisfying experience.

Days quickly flew by and by Thursday evening we prepared for our next halting place, Haridwar, not before offering our grateful thank you and gratitude to members of the ashram. As customary we offered a donation to cover our stay and food and liberal tips to service staff (over 30 people) that made our stay a very pleasant experience.

We had booked our stay at Haridwar in Hotel Basera, which has a central location very close to the railway station. We had the the good fortune to get a car arranged through a contact of ours- Sekar from Delhi. Our driver knew all the local places and was very efficient in organizing smooth and hassle free visits to all locations. In addition to a repeat visit to Ram and lakshman jula areas, we went to the hill temples Manasa devi and Chandi devi. The route up is through cable cars, well organised by the management, a car comes every two minutes which can house four people  and takes 15 minutes to reach the top. Good Darsan and prayers to mother Kali, a little bit of shopping and we are back. The view all along was wonderful and we also witnessed the Aarthi at Hariki Pouri Ghat. We were fortunate to get in to the VIP darsan area through our drivers contacts! The view of 7 big Aartis being performed for the river Ganga was a thrilling sight to see with background chanting of Ganga matha slogas.

One afternoon we went for a bath in a very special ghat reserved for state VIPs, a very private and exclusive affair! As per our plan we spent an afternoon at Baba Ramdev centre, consulting doctors and getting tips and advice with general ayurvedic medicine.  It is a very well organised set up and the consultation was free.

We bade goodbye to our driver with farewell gifts and generous tips. A special gift and Prasad was packed and conveyed through our driver to our sponsor.

The third day was kept for local shopping and preparation for our final packing for our return trip next morning. We had three more bags full of gifts and ganga water for our friends back home! Our camera is full of photos and we transferred the pictures to CDs. The trip was extremely worthwhile with some of the experiences being beyond words to describe. We are grateful to the Almighty for his help, guidance and direction. A very special thank you is in order for our kind hearted and caring sons Vivek and Arjun, with whose support this trip was possible. An experience which will stay with us for a long time to come .

We boarded the train back to Chennai after 3 hectic days at Haridwar. The hotel people had packed us plenty of food to keep us going for one day and we relied on the dining car for the second day of the journey. We travelled home content with three more pieces of luggage full of giftsand ganga water for our friends together with two CDs full of photos and memories.

Written by Raghuraman

July 2nd, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Posted in Hinduism, Indian Culture

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Recharge yourself with meditation

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Murphy’s Law says if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. Every time we solve one problem a new one springs up. This is a common, normal experience for all of us. Maybe no one can escape this or be free of problems. However, the least we can do is to ensure that we do not fret and worry about them. The pressure of life is so great that any stresses will affect us physically and emotionally.

The solution is not to succumb to our frustrations by fighting back or running away from them. Those reactions can create still more problems for us in our relationships. We therefore need to find an acceptable alternative solution to defuse tensions. Meditation is one way to counter stress, as it is a process by which we can experience higher spiritual realms. Meditation helps by bringing physical relaxation and it also puts us in a state where we are absorbed in an enjoyable, blissful experience and become oblivious to the problems of the outer world.

We select a pose in which we can remain calm and quiet. By focusing our attention on a point between and behind the two eye brows, we withdraw our attention from the outer body. The body then becomes as relaxed as it is in sleep and the mind is free to go in search of realms with in. With this inner support we can then face our problems with a clear mind and find solutions. We are able to make more rational decisions because we see life from a higher angle of vision. We feel less stressed as we remain calm, which in turn relaxes the body, and thus our chances of stress related illness decrease.

It is possible that as you sit in meditation all sorts of turbulent thoughts will come to your mind. This happens because of the deep rooted tendency of the mind to dwell up on worldly objects. To counteract this a point of focus will come to the rescue. The panchakshari Om Namah Shivaya mantra will induce seekers into deep meditation. The five syllables are the bij-aksharas or seed letters of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether of which our body is made. Constant repetition of these holy syllables, either verbally or mentally, generates powerful spiritual vibrations, that will render the mind pure and one pointed. This leads to awakening of the kundalini, the spiritual energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine, the muladar, in each individual.

As you progress in meditation you will come to experience a sublime state, which will lead you to realise your inner most self, the abode of eternal consciousness.

We can meditate at any time of the day. We can begin our day with meditation, also end the day with meditation, during travel, during office lunch breaks, or immediately after returning home from a hard day’s work. We can overcome life’s stresses and strains and discover the key to relaxation and tranquility.

Written by Raghuraman

October 26th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Reflections of a holiday in Ooty, Coonor and Coimbatore

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“Every night as you go to sleep, your vision doesn’t sleep, your goals don’t sleep, your aspirations don’t sleep, your world doesn’t sleep. The power to make your dreams a reality is in your own hands. Make your move first and he will do the rest for you!”

Since January we had been thinking of going away for a long holiday for rest and quiet away from life’s routines. Considering the hot weather in Chennai from April to June, the preferred location was any nearby hill station with an elevation of over 4000 feet. Our inner mind also craved to complete the much aspired trips to family temples near Coimbatore. That settled it and Nilagiris was the choice.

With support and encouragement from Vivek, Vaishnavi, Arjuna and family friend Jaya, we planned an itinerary for two weeks. From then onwards the rest was only a question of preparation and execution which was fairly easy compared to earlier bridges we have had to cross!

We all have some favorite trains and mine happens to be the Nilagiri blue mountain train running between Chennai and Ooty. We instead drove from Mettupalayam as the hill train was cancelled (a small disappointment). However, the road trip was equally enjoyable with the comfort of breathing the wonderful smell of Eucalyptus as we started climbing through the hairpin bends, appreciating the special signals of our driver to other bus, car and lorry drivers- a very courteous lot!

We halted for an hour near a waterfall for breakfast and continued via Coonoor to reach Ooty. We stopped to buy some fresh vegetable and fruits from the city market enroute and then by lunchtime we checked in to the resort in the lovely Elk hills above the lake. A comfortable room with good furnishings facing the town, a small compact kitchen with all utilities: oven, fridge, utensils, shelves and wash basin. Geetha was quick to unpack and lost no time in busying herself in the kitchenette (as she had come well prepared from Chennai). A menu of Pongal, Sambar and Salad was ready in no time and was the first of very enjoyable meals.

In the early afternoon we went to the botanical gardens (formerly the Royal Botanical gardens) to see the galaxy of flowering plants and lovely decorations for the annual flower show which was scheduled in two days time. We saw vibrant salvia, asters, marygolds, dahlia, anthuriam, hoyhocks, roses, antirinum, sweetpeas, and button roses. We walked down to the Tibetan shops to buy sweaters and scarves (they sell good quality at reasonable prices) and on to commercial road to buy Amma’s favorite homemade chocolates and essential medicated oils. The air became cooler around 4 pm and so we enjoyed a hot cup of Nilagiri tea and biscuits.

During the following days we established a routine of morning walks, trips to Ramakrishna center for prayers and meditation and visits to selected tourist spots in the afternoon. We enjoyed the trips to the rose garden, wax museum, boat house near the lake, chellarams and flower shows. We also browsed and shopped in supermarkets, department stores, modern stores and the shops run by tribal-toddas. Lunch was had out in the Marwari hotel (good, simple food). We could watch the IPL 20 matches in our room and participated in games organised by resort people. We enjoyed a trip to a tea factory to see the process of tea manufacture, buy their special tea packets and joined in a group trip to viewpoints like the Pykkara hydro project. We regularly visited a nearby temple of Vinayaka, Durga, Amma, Navagraha and the hill God Muneeswarar to pray for the success of Arjuna’s Graduation, the winding up from Virginia, safe travel and settlement in Texas and the safe return of Vivek and Cathy to London. The regular feedback we received from Arjun kept us in a peaceful and happy frame of mind. God answered our prayers and we were proud of the role played by all members of the team. Good show!

We said good bye to Ooty on the morning of the seventh day and arrived in Coonor to check in to Hotel Vivek by midday. Here we had to evolve a different routine as there was no facility for cooking. The hotel was in upper Coonoor overlooking a tea estate, fairly close to Sims park and the market area, Bedford circle. The changes unfortunately gave a sore throat for myself and indigestion for Geetha. However with the help of a nice Lady doctor (Dr Chitra Devi originally from Coimbatore) we managed to get the correct diagnosis and medication.

Coonoor is a nice compact place, milder in climate compared to Ooty, a calm, quiet town surrounded by tea estates. It has many famous landmarks like the military academy, Madras regimental centre, needle factory, Ketty valley, Sims horticultural park, boarding schools and shopping malls selling hill products. We spent a lot of time walking around Bedford Circle and Sims park. We also managed a visit to Ketty valley to see a real-estate development covering over 30 acres, where a promoter from Bangalore was developing a layout and selling housing plots from 10 cents (one “cent” is 432 sq feet) to 20,30 and 50 cents. The site is 5 to 6 kilometres from Coonoor (midway between Coonoor and Ooty). The cost and registration of a 10 cent plot comes to 19 lacs and with the construction of a 1000 sq feet house it would come to 32 lacs! Unfortunately this costing does not fit with this writer’s dreams. The vision was to have nice big house in such a hill station in 4-5 acres of wooded land facing a valley. However, some day it will certainly happen!

After 5 lovely days in Coonoor we drove down to Coimbatore to check in at Hotel Sri Lakshmi at Gandhipuram. We had a 3 day plan here which included: a trip to Palakad Manapully Bagavathy temple, a trip to Marudamalai Muruga temple, Saibaba temple, Danavathri temple at Kottakal ayurvedic centre and a trip to Isayoga centre at Vellingiri hill. We managed all the trips very well with help from my friend at Coimbatore, Dr Raghunath, and concluded the visit by boarding the train to Chennai as per schedule. It was very satisfying to be able to thank God in our favorite temples for his support, help, directions and blessings to members of the family: TVR, Geetha, Penny and Bill.

Back at home we settled in immediately, but took a week to get adjusted to the weather! However, it’s a fact of life so no use complaining about it. We surprised our friends with gift packets and showed them the photos. They were happy for us and hoped and prayed that we get blessed with such holidays at least twice a year. For they say we deserve it, will it come true?

Written by Raghuraman

June 15th, 2008 at 2:16 pm