GARLANDS OF JASMINE AND ROSES PILING UP
Mani S. Irani
It is customary in India to give a "bhandara", a feast for the poor, in the name of a Master. On this 25th of February, the Baba-Centre at Ahmednagar gave a massive bhandara in beloved Baba's Name. Some twenty thousand people from Ahmednagar city and neighbouring villages, came to the Centre that Day and had their fill of the feast which continued for twelve hours! They feasted on the delicious food prepared and served by the lovers, they feasted on His Name that rang to the skies in 'Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai', they feasted on His Love that brought them there.
The citizens of Poona had a feast of another kind. Their eyes had never feasted on such a sight as greeted them on the streets of Poona on that evening of February 25. They were witnessing the Baba-procession planned by Baba's Centre in Poona. It was a jubilant procession of 2000 men, women and children, starting from the Centre at 7 o'clock and winding through the streets of the city for nearly four hours, streets that were lined thick with spectators who outnumbered the procession!
People crowded the windows and balconies of their homes, watching the Beloved's lifesize portrait riding in a four-horse chariot decked with flowers and lights, listening to the accompanying music and bhajans, fascinated by the 'lejhim' danced by groups of men, amazed that Meher Baba's lovers were even now celebrating His Birthday. One young group of lovers who spontaneously joined in the dancing, consisted of Iranis including Baba's twin nephews. They danced non-stop, danced rapturously as though intoxicated, as Ramakrishnan later told us. Eruch's brother Meherwan wrote: "At every crossroad the procession stopped while the lejhim was danced, and traffic came to a halt in all directions, while shouts of 'Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai' continually rent the air. By the end, we had all shouted ourselves hoarse!"
This is the spirit in which His lovers at many places, in the East and West, celebrated their Beloved's 75th Birth Day. The lovers of Andhra continued their daily celebration for 75 days without a break Baba could drop His body, but He could not drop out of their hearts!
"In short", as Eruch wrote in a letter, "it is obvious that the lovers of Baba believe that Baba is in their midst, although His physical presence is out of sight. He seems to have come into their hearts more forcefully than ever before. They feel His presence without seeing Him, and I can quite believe that, because I too feel that way. Although I miss Him, I feel His presence without seeing Him the same as when Baba used to send me away on some errand, He being where He was."
Baba's presence was felt very much by us on the 25th. Meherazad celebrated the Day as usual the decorations, the birthday cake with the one candle for the One Beloved, all of us calling out 'Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai' at the stroke of 5 in the morning; then the Arti, the Prayers, the Birthday song, the gramophone music played over a loud-speaker hired from the village.
We had a dear guest with us that day: Maharani Shantadevi of Baroda. One unusual item was our visit to Meherabad, to Beloved Baba at the Tomb. There we witnessed His lovers of Arangaon celebrating His Day. All night they sang songs composed for Him, all morning they played their drums and cymbals while they danced for Him we never saw such exultant and rhythmic dancing!
The whole village seemed to have turned up for Baba's darshan. Young and old, in tatters and in finery, the villagers came up the Hill and filed into the Tomb for Baba's darshan. On the stone floor at His feet they placed their heads in obeisance, and taught their children to do the same (sometime with the help of a firm hand on their heads). The garlands of jasmine and roses piling up beside Him, were a fragrant reminder of His words: "I will give Darshan in silence."
82 FAMILY LETTERS, pp. 347-348
1976 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust