KWANZAA

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KWANZAA, the African-American cultural holiday conceived and developed by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, was first celebrated on December 26, 1966.

Kwanzaa is traditionally celebrated from December 26 through January 1, with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. Derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits”, Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa.

Kwanzaa seeks to enforce a connectedness to African cultural identity, provide a focal point for the gathering of African peoples, and to reflect upon the Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles, that have sustained Africans.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa – Nguzo Saba

1. UMOJA (UNITY) (oo-MOE-jah) – To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

2. KUJICHAGULIA (SELF DETERMINATION) (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah) – To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

3. UJIMA (COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY) (oo-JEE-mah) – To build and maintain our community together and to make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

4. UJAMAA (COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS) (oo-JAH-mah) – To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit together from them.

5. NIA (PURPOSE) (nee-AH) – To make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

6. KUUMBA (CREATIVITY) (koo-OOM-bah) – To do always as much as we can, in the way that we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it.

7. IMANI (FAITH) (ee-MAH-nee) – To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

KWANZAA Symbols Overview

-Mkeka – mat
-Kinara – candle holder
-Mishumaa Saba – Seven candles representing the principles.
-Kikombe Cha Umoja – the unity cup
-Mazao – crops
-Vibunzi – ears of corn
-Zawadi – gifts
-Bendera – Flag

MKEKA (M-KAY-KAH) – MAT
The Mkeka is a symbol of history and tradition. It is the base or foundation garment. All Kwanzaa symbols are placed upon the Mkeka.

Kinara (Ke-na-re) – Candelabra
The Kinara is imilar to a traditional menorah. Seven candlesticks are used in celebrating Kwanzaa aka/seven branches. Generally made of wood, they are significant of the thick African forests.

MISUMAA SABA (ME-SHOO-MAAH-SAH-BAH) – SEVEN CANDLES
The seven candles, one black…three red… three green, represent the Nguzo Saba. The black candle goes in the center, three red on the left and the three green on the right. The second day the candies are lit on the left and the right alternately. The red candles represent the struggle and the green candles represent the fruitful future. Each candle lit the previous day is re-lit along with the candle of the day until the last candle has been lit on the last day of Kwanzaa.

KIKOMBA CHA UMOJA (KE-KOM-BAH CHAH OO-MO-JAH) UNITY CUP
The Unity Cup symbolizes the foundation principle of the Nguzu Saba, Umoja (Unity). It is used to pour Tambiko (Tahm-be-ko) -Libation for our ancestors. It is poured to represent the connection with our ancestors.This is a gesture of honor, praise and a commitment to acknowledge the journey of our ancestors

MAZAO (MAH-ZAH-OW) CROPS
Mazao represents the historical roots of Kwanzaa as a harvest of “first fruit” cerebration. Mazao also represents the rewards of collective and productive labor. Most urban dwellers do not harvest crops, so fresh fruits and vegetables are used to represent the fruits of their labors.

VIBUNZI (VE-BOON-ZE) or Muhindi – EARS OF CORN
Each house places one of the Mkeka (ears of corn)…an ear for each child. Even if the household has no children – at least one ear of corn is placed, beside the Kinara, to represent the potential for children.
Note: Kwanzaa serves to reinforce the relationship between parents and children because it is with the children that our hopes for the future rest. It is the parent who must guide and instruct the child toward principles and values which strengthen the family and aid its progress.

ZAWADI (ZAH-WAH-DEE) GIFTS, Such as:
A book…gifts of knowledge and/or heritage symbols such as African art or picture of African-American hero, Handmade gifts. Never store bought or commercial gifts.

BENDARA (BEN-DA-RA) NATIONAL FLAG
The Flags colors are Red, Black & Green. Black represents the African-American people, Red represents the experience of our people and Green represents our youth who are our future and hope for tomorrow.

Family Celebrating Kwanzaa

 

 

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YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT DICTATE YOUR SUCCESS

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So many of us go through life carrying the shadows of our past and tainting our future. If we had great failure in the past, we let it define our identity and severely limit our potential for any future success.

Then we hear success stories of those who did not let any disadvantage dictate their success, those who blatantly ignored their shadows, shunned their current circumstances and defined their new future with brilliant colors!
How did they do it, we wonder? Can we too let go of these dark shadows? Can we walk into a new light, no matter what our past may have been and what our current circumstances suggest? I believe we can.
Imagine what your life would be like if you stopped blaming your circumstances on other people and things and took responsibility for your life.
I recently read a great quote from Ben Franklin that I hadn’t seen before. He said, “Joy doesn’t exist in the world, it exists in us.” While the quote was new to me, the concept wasn’t.
However, as I began to think about it more, I realized that even though I “understand” this wisdom and do my best to live by it and remind others of it, more often than I’d like to admit, I find myself living as though I’m simply a victim of the things that go on around me and in the world—especially the stuff I don’t particularly like…agree with…understand…enjoy…or feel like I’m on top of.
The circumstances of our lives, especially when they seem stressful or intense, does have an impact on us, for sure. However, all too often, we give away our power to these circumstances and situations.

We act as though it’s a foregone conclusion that we will feel a certain way, based on specific circumstances like the economy, the weather, our health, our level of activity, the state of our romantic relationship or lack thereof, the behavior of our children, our families, the state of our career, business or our environment at work.

Our experiences of life (whether grateful, worried, peaceful, angry, excited, sad, alive, depressed, joyous or anything else) are much more of a reflection of us and what’s going on within us, not a reaction to what’s going on around us. So do we put so much attention on the environment?

We’ve all had many times in our lives when things were going great on the surface or we accomplished or experienced some wonderful external success, only to feel a sense of disappointment or sadness underneath because, whatever it was didn’t satisfy us at a deep level.
And, on the flip side, most of us have had moments of incredible joy, excitement and bliss that weren’t directly connected to anything externally. Because we are joy-filled on the inside.        
We’ve learned to transcend our physical conditions. Even though we know this dynamic to be true, we still seem to get caught up in the hypnotic, erroneous notion that if we just got rid of some issues, altered some circumstances, manifested some increased success or changed some specific situations in our lives, then, we’d be happy, peaceful and relaxed.
Author and spiritual teacher Byron Katie says: “The definition of insanity is thinking that you need something you don’t have. The mere fact that you exist right now, without that of which you think you need, is the proof that you don’t need it.”
What if we lived our lives with a deeper and more conscious awareness of the fact that we get to create our experiences in life, at any moment?
Imagine what our lives, our careers and our relationships would look like if we stopped blaming our experiences on other people or on external circumstances. We would free up so much positive energy and take back so much of our personal power.
So, know your circumstances do not dictate your success.

YOUR DREAMS ARE POSSIBLE!

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People achieve the impossible. They do it every day, at every age, every demographic, and in every social condition. They rise up to the occasion and defy the norms and no one has to give them permission, to live their dreams. So why are you waiting for permission then? YOU decide if your dream is worth pursuing. So go make it happen!

Do you ever feel like your dreams are crazy? Are you afraid of others judging you, of not supporting what you want to do and who you want to be in the world? Many of us struggle with finding and living our purpose. I did this for years and it was one of the most frustrating and painful times of my life.

What are your deepest dreams and desires? What do you really, truly want? You may be longing for an opportunity to travel or have a child. Perhaps your heart yearns for a romantic relationship or the chance to express your creativity. You may be dreaming of changing your career or creating more material abundance in your life. Or you may just wish, you could sleep at night.

The fulfillment of all of our dreams begins with intention and desire. As the sages of India observed thousands of years ago, our destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires.

As a passage from the Hindu Vedic text states, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Our destiny ultimately comes from the deepest level of desire and also from the deepest level of intention. The two are linked. An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed which you aim to create.

Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them. Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish.

We can cultivate and fulfill our intentions with ease and grace when you:
Get clear on your Intentions, detach from the Outcome and Let the Universe Handle the Details. Trust that infinite organizing power to orchestrate the complete fulfillment of your desires. At the level of Spirit, everything is always unfolding… perfectly.

There is nothing too big for God. What do you want?
Material Abundance
Relationships
Spiritual Awakening
Personal Growth
Community
Health and Well-being

You can have it all. Your dreams are possible.