Symbols of the world's religions


Victor Andersen
Walnut Creek, California

The Youth Sahavas is a yearly gathering of Meher Baba's followers who happen to be unfortunate enough to be in high school. The Sahavas is held at the Myrtle Beach Center and is coordinated by three wonderful people — Buz Conner, Linda Hansen, and Lois (LoLo) Jones — they deserve much applause for pulling this off year after year along with many other helpers.

The sixth annual Youth Sahavas began as attendees arrived from all over the world (we had people from England, Australia and Puerto Rico). After unloading their baggage, some people headed out to the playground for a rousing game of volleyball while others met in the Meeting Place to discuss volunteer work for the Sahavas. A few people glided out on Long Lake in the gondola and some, delighted at seeing old friends again, simply hung out and talked. We did an art project that night in which 10 sketches of Baba were cut up into 10 pieces each and distributed to 10 groups of 10 people each. Each person colored in one piece of Baba and then the pieces were put back together and hung up on the wall in the Meeting Place for the remainder of the Sahavas.

On the first morning at seven sharp, Lela Stephens and Angie West discovered exactly how to make the whole camp hate them — they woke everybody up! Once the early morning groggies had been shaken off, the few of us who were actually coherent at 7:30 A.M. walked down to the Meeting Place for morning arti. Discussion groups began at 10:30. Discussion groups were held throughout the Sahavas and focused on topics ranging from the Discourses to gender issues to what Baba had to say about drugs. Workshops were held every afternoon. There was a wide variety of workshops to choose from, including theater, music improvisation, digeridoos, creative writing, video/film-making/editing, drum circle, photography. Art tent activities included making tiles for the Peace Wall, sculpting clay, and painting murals. Evening arti was at six (similar to morning arti except that people were actually awake this time).

We had dancing after dinner on several nights — even square dances. William Files deserves special thanks here, as he devoted much of his Sahavas time to organizing the dances and setting up and operating all the sound and lighting equipment.

Thursday evening, we had two Baba films, followed by a slide show organized by Prem Makeig. It consisted of art that Sahavas attendees had submitted earlier in the year. On Friday the evening program was the Celebration (a.k.a. Talent Show) where people played piano, drums, guitar, digeridoo, and sang, danced, and rapped. The hosts for the evening were Mehera Blum and Erich Morton dressed up as Erich Morton and Mehera Blum respectively. The Celebration ended as usual with the Men's Play. The Men's Play — which is written, organized, and performed only by the men — is traditionally the last thing that happens on Celebration night.

Saturday was the last full day of the Sahavas. The Barn Ceremony — until now the last major event on the last night of the Sahavas — was held in the evening. Each person lines up in the barn, takes a flower from a basket, and places it on Baba's chair, and receives a gift from Mani. This year, Mani gave each Sahavas attendee a piece of bark from the umar tree in Meherazad which had borne the image of Baba's face. The Barn Ceremony is generally the part of the Sahavas where all the attendees feel closest to each other, and there is much crying and hugging going on. It is about this time when the reality of leaving the next day really begins to set in. This year we were delighted to hear that, thanks to a wonderful suggestion by Ben Hay, we would all be a part of the first EVER dhuni at Meher Center. It was an honor to be a part of such a wonderful event. After the Barn Ceremony, everybody made the one-third mile trek down to a patch of beach set behind some sand dunes, where we held the dhuni.

On Sunday, the last day, we headed out to Baba's House — walking in silence and holding hands in a long chain of over 100 people — for the closing ceremony. At Baba's House, still holding hands, we all walked past a video camera, said a quick message to Mani, and then gathered around the camera to sing Mani's song. The video was then sent off to India as a get-well gift to her. Then we went inside Baba's House to absorb the love that was flowing and to say goodbye to all the people we had grown to love so much during the Sahavas. It was kind of a shock knowing that we wouldn't see most of these people for another year, especially since we all had grown so close to each other during the Sahavas. But in reality we are always with each other, deep in our hearts, as is Baba.

Jai Baba!

1996 Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California

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