Here are a few pointers:
- Invitation & Punctuality
- Cleanliness is next to Godliness
- Be Accommodating
- Sustainable Prasadam
- Avoid Social-political Topics
- Be Sensitive and Aware
Invitation & Punctuality– Make sure that your invitation has clear directions and timings for your event. Also be ready to start receiving guests at the time you set. A simple gesture of offering them a seat and glass of water to wait while others arrive is enough. Maybe offer them the wi-fi code if you have one. Some guests may want a conversation while others arrive and others are fine waiting silently on their phones because they may not be as extroverted. Be sensitive to that so your guests don’t feel either isolated or smothered.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
It is much easier to feel comfortable in a clean environment. If you can, create an uncluttered, open space as this encourages clearer thinking and is more inviting. If the weather is pleasurable, you can also create an outdoor set-up. Just make sure there is enough lighting and there aren’t bugs that will disturb.
You will most likely know the needs of the guests you have invited so prepare to receive them according to their needs. You don’t have to go overboard but something as simple as having chairs for those who can’t sit on the ground comfortably is a really kind gesture.
Simple folding chairs could do and they are easy to store away for your next event!
Sustainable Prasadam Offerings
It is always nice to have a simple snack or light meal to start or end a program.
We encourage you to make it sustainable so you don’t burn yourself out or burn you co-hosts out. We have seen that sometimes hosts will make a scrumptious 5 course meal which is fantastic but you don’t want to create an expectation that you can’t maintain. If you are able to offer those type of meals then please go ahead and do so but it isn’t 100% necessary to keep the program alive.
One suggestion is you can save the big feasts for more important occasions but your regular Prasadam offerings can be lighter and simpler to make.
Someone may feel encouraged to host in their home if they know that either you will help them with the Prasadam offerings or if they see that the preparations can be simple.
(For example, tea and popcorn or cookies)
Don’t overwhelm yourself unnecessarily so the programs can continue unhindered.
Avoid Social-political Topics
There are various polarizing opinions concerning politics and also many different social circles that may have different approaches to certain customs or beliefs.
If the discussions are focused around enhancing ones spiritual life and creating a supportive relationship environment, then it can be easy to stir away from controversial socio-political ideas.
Even within our Vaishnava community there are different opinions on marriage, economics, spiritual organizations and so on and so forth.
Keep the discussions upbeat and pay attention to those who are sharing.
Sometimes people just need to be listened to and that is the greatest demonstration of care.
WE ARE NOT TRYING TO CONVERT. WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE FRIENDS.
Be Sensitive and Aware
When being personable it can be easy to know when someone is feeling uncomfortable and when someone is feeling at ease.
It is important to feel the pulse of your guests so you can adjust or support accordingly. That are times you may need to step in to counterbalance someone else’s energy, or times you may just need to take a step back and relish the beautiful connections that are happening.
An example of counterbalancing an energy would be:
You may have a really outspoken guest who is strongly sharing their beliefs or their spiritual practices. If you see that other guests may be uneasy or feel that they are being “preached” to, then it is important to counter balance that energy to keep those particular guests at ease.
You can counter balance by changing the subject or, if you find that difficult to do, then you can subtly start a private conversation with the person you suspect may be uncomfortable.
Asking questions about someone’s life is a way to make them feel comfortable because most people like to speak about where they are at or what they have done. A simple light-energy dialogue can be the key to make someone feel at home.