Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


16 to 31 December 2006

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

Happy Holiday to our dear Baba Lover family around the world. The last two weeks of December seems to be the most event-packed time in the year. You have Mehera's birthday, a very special day here. Then there is the Christmas program at Meherazad. This is followed by the New Year Eve celebration, with party and being at the Samadhi to bring in the New Year at midnight. You almost go 'whew!' when the time passes. Of course, then you take a big breath and prepare for Amartithi.

Oh, yes, I need to give you the latest update on the Chickungunya! For myself, I am happy to say I can now squat-an important thing to be able to do while living in India, where you have Eastern toilets everywhere. Also, my cough is almost gone. I seem to be pretty much back to normal. However, a few residents here at Meherabad keep having a reoccurrence of some sort, swelling of the joints, or not being able to get rid of a cough.

Saturday 16 December 2006. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Beloved Baba's Cabin Room. There were a lot of garlands to remove, because of Mani's Birthday yesterday. Then I went down the hill and cleaned the Jhopdi. When I finished with that, I went to my room to get ready for the Historical Tour of Meherabad at 10:00 AM.

I have noticed since we moved up to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat there are not as many pilgrims who come down to go on the Historical Tour. I am not quite sure why, since the bus brings pilgrims to the old MPC at 9:30 AM.

In the afternoon, I made a couple of notices to be posted, on where to give a contribution if any resident wanted to contribute toward a 'Meherabad Resident' garland for Mehera's birthday. When I first moved here there was someone who would collect contributions from Meherabad Women Residents only. When I took over years ago, I changed it to Meherabad Residents—which included the men as well.

At 4:00 PM tea and cake was served on the verandah of the Music and Arts Center (Hostel-A). At 4:30 PM two videos were shown of Baba's Sister Mani taken in Mandali Hall, September 1989 titled 'Accepting His Way' and 'Doing All For His Sake'.

Sunday 17 December 2006. I had hired a car to take Virginia to Meherazad. She always remembers Mehera when we reach Mehera's porch. Everyone is always happy to see her and give her such sweet hugs and kisses.

There was not a program in Mandali Hall because the tin roof was not put back on yet. It was the first time most had ever seen it empty and open to the sky. It looked so small!

We stopped for lunch on the way home. Then Virginia had ice cream for dessert—her favorite.

Monday 18 December. I had a full day at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. We have been very busy. When I had time, I wrote a letter to the Meherabad Trustees requesting permission for our annual New Year's Eve Celebration with bringing in the New Year at the Samadhi. I sent a copy to Bhauji.

The bus took the pilgrims to the MPC at 3:30 PM. From 3:50 PM to 4:15 PM there was a 'Singing' practice (for Mehera's birthday and Xmas). Tea and popcorn were served in the Hall at 4:00 PM. Then at 4:30 PM Bhau gave a talk.

Tuesday 19 December. In the morning I had received a letter from the Meherabad Trustees approving the New Year Eve Celebration. There was another 'singing' practice, this time from 4:45 to 5:30 PM in the Music Room of the Retreat.

I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 PM. On my way up the hill for my 6:00 PM Samadhi duty, I noticed the metal frame in front of the Amphitheater was up. It supports the colorful pandal that gives shade and allows a large, unobstructed area for watching the performances during Amartithi. Just before Arti I saw the flowerwala and ordered the garland for Mehera's Birthday. I also ordered a garland for Baba's Samadhi, His Cabin Room, and the Gadi.

Wednesday 20 December. This was my half-day at the Retreat. There were a lot of arrivals. Many from Pune and Mumbai are coming for Mehera's birthday. Susie Biddu gave a tour of the Meher English School. Everyone was to meet in front of the old MPC at 10:00 AM. There was a singing practice in the Music Room of the Retreat at 12 noon.

At 4:00 PM tea and cake was served on the verandah of the Music and Arts Center. At 4:30 PM a Baba movie was shown.

Thursday 21 December. In the morning I had fun working in the garden around my house. I planted the three bougavilla I had bought in Pune. Then I went to collect the money for Mehera's garland.

I got a letter of approval for the New Year's Eve Celebration from Bhauji. I then went to the Retreat to get the design Susie Iimura and I had made for a jungle gym for the children's playground. I needed to have an estimate of cost by 31 December, to present to the Trust Board to be considered in the 2007 financial budget.

In preparation for Mehera's Birthday, a notice was posted requesting volunteers for "cleaning up the trash" around the Samadhi and Lower Meherabad. All were to meet at Mandali Hall at 9:15 AM. Bags and gloves were provided.

At 4:30 PM, the weekly 'music on the porch' jam session was on the verandah of the Music and Arts Center.

Friday 22 December. Today was Baba's Beloved Mehera's 100th Birthday. I was up the hill by 9:00 AM with my video camera and tripod. I really did not want to video, but felt guilty if I did not. A lot of the women residents were wearing something in pink. When Meheru came, she too had something on with pink. It was not planned, of course. Yet with so many in pink, one wonders how so many picked that color at the same time.

When we got to the Samadhi, I saw Bif Soper had his video camera. I happily put mine away and just enjoyed the Arti!

All the songs sung at the 10:00 AM Special Arti were 'Mehera songs'. Heather wrote a song for Mehera's 100th birthday. It was so beautiful! The song said how we had 'Sita, Rada, Ayesha, Jesus' Maria, and now Beloved Baba's Mehera. Also, Meheru had written a song for Mehera that Heather sang.

When the Arti was over, and Meheru went into Baba's Cabin Room, Heather showed Meheru the new matting on one of the large Baba photos. Bob Frederick had done it in time for Mehera's birthday.

The covers on Mehera, Mani and Baba's shrines were so lovely. On the Gadi was a beautiful cover with two peacocks. Lindsey Reiter had made it. She has such a unique ability to create these gorgeous covers for the Shrines and Gadi. The two peacocks were just like the peacocks carved on the headboard sides of the Gadi. I, along with others, had never noticed the carvings. The Gadi is stained a dark brown and it is not that easy to see the peacocks.

After lunch I went to take a nap. I could smell a burnt smell. I went outside and looked around. The fields out back had been burned. The Trust has this done from time to time to control the weeds.

At 4:00 PM the Birthday Celebration continued. Cake, tea, and ice cream were served on the Music & Arts Center verandah. At 4:30 PM there was a program of music, singing, and dancing. A film of Mehera followed this.

Saturday 23 December. I was up the hill by 5:30 AM to clean Baba's Cabin Room. Then I went down the hill to clean the Jhopdi. At 10:00 AM I went to the MPC for the Historical Tour. No one was there, so I had the day off.

At 4:00 PM tea and cake were served on the verandah of the Music & Arts Center. At 4:30 PM was a concert by Buz Conner and Ross Keating. Joe Bender accompanied with the drum.

Sunday 24 December. In the morning I worked in the garden. At evening Arti, only Christmas carols were sung. Sheets of favorite Christmas songs were passed around. This allowed everyone to join in the singing

Monday 25 December. It was my day at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. I had a notice put on the Reception Office door that I would be there after the Meherazad Christmas program. I had my cell phone with me if I was needed.

I had a car pick Virginia and me up. When we got to Meherazad we went and got seats. A colorful pandal covered the seating and stage area. It was a clear, warm day. Christmas decorations made the area look so lovely. Wendy Connor and Heather Nadel both told 'Mani' jokes. The Alvarado family did a reenactment of a funny musical done previously at the 1969 Darshan, which Meheru says Mehera loved. Huge McDonald did his magic and Xmas carols ended the program. A line was formed to go into Mandali Hall and take Darshan at Beloved Baba's chair. Buz Connor was dressed as Santa and he gave out the traditional bags of goodies to each person after they took Darshan.

I immediately went to the Retreat when I reached Meherabad. I was very busy and had several unexpected arrivals later in the afternoon. I got home at 7:50 PM. I fed Foundy, my dog, and then went to an Xmas party at one of the Residents' home. It was a potluck dinner; such good food. There were several men from Iran at the dinner. They sang and danced while cooking outside.

Tuesday 26 December. I was up at the Samadhi by 8:30 AM to do an archive cleaning. Then I went into the bazaar to buy blinking lights and other decorations for our annual New Year Eve celebration. We decided at our weekly 'volunteer supervisor' meeting not to have a buffet following the bringing in of the New Year at the Samadhi. Our pilgrim accommodations at Meherabad are now over a mile apart. It just is not the same situation as it used to be when we had the celebration at the MPC.

I went to a dinner party at 5:00 PM. But, I could not stay for dinner because I had 6:00 PM Samadhi duty.

We got word that Jungle Master had died. According to Baba, he would be buried here at Meherabad with His Mandali. He had been with Baba since the early years. He and Bhau are the last two men who allowed to be buried here at Meherabad.

Wednesday 27 December. I was on duty at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. A bus left at 9:30 AM to take pilgrims to Lower Meherabad. JungleMaster's body was kept in Mandali Hall for people to have a chance to say goodbye. Then around 11:00 AM his body was taken to the cremation site.

I took a rickshaw at 11:00 AM to the cremation. I wanted to say goodbye. I only stayed a short time, and then I returned to the Retreat.

In the afternoon at 4:00 PM, tea and cake were served on the verandah of the Music & Arts Center. Then at 4:30 PM a Baba movie was shown.

Thursday 28 December. I went to Pune for the day. While in Pune I went to Jungle Maharaj Road. There is a temple site Baba would go to during those nine months after Babajan lifted His veil. There is a large open area that was made by removing the stone. Inside this area is a stone circular temple. Then at one end are three doors that allow you to enter small cells. Carved out of the stone is a walk way all around these three doors. In the far corner is a ledge; it looks like it was unfinished. It is this ledge that Baba would sit on. This whole carved area was made long ago. Jal, Baba's brother, had told this pilgrim I talked to that Baba had said every Avatar had been in that area. The energy is so powerful tears came to my eyes.

Friday 29 December. I worked in the garden. I tied sheets of tata bamboo to our garden barbwire fence. When the herders bring their animals, the goats stick their head between the barbwire and keep eating our plants! That is why they have not been growing. Now with the bamboo sheets the goats will not only be unable to see the plants, they will not be able to eat them either.

Bhau and his entourage left for Saoner, near Nagpur in the evening.

Saturday 30 December. I was up the hill be 5:30 AM to clean Baba's Cabin Room. Then I went down the hill and cleaned the Jhopdi. The Historical Tour of Meherabad was cancelled because there was the 10:00 AM burial of JungleMaster's urn here at Meherabad.

I took my video camera and videoed the burial. JungleMaster's urn is buried next to Aloba. When Bhau joins Baba, his body will be on the other side of JungleMaster. There were a couple of hundred people at the burial.

Joe Bender came to pick up my computer. He was going to download the music we would play at the party. I made arrangements for the Sound System to be taken to the Retreat for the party.

There was a concert in the afternoon. Tea and cake were served on the verandah of the Music & Arts Center at 4:00 PM. Then at 4:30 PM the concert began. Many singers participated in the concert. One of them was Meher Mistry. She sang a song while being accompanied by Nariman Lindsey.

Sunday 31 December. I was up the hill by 8:00 AM to clean the Samadhi. Then at 10:30 AM I went up to the Retreat to decorate for the party. I was happy to have help, though it still took us seven hours. The Retreat is so much bigger than the MPC. But, when we finished it all looked so pretty. It adds to the spirit of celebration.

I went home around 5:50 PM to take a bath and get ready for the celebration. My legs were already tired from standing so many hours. But, I was still ready to dance. We had a collection of all types of music, making it easy for everyone to dance.

At 11:30 PM we stopped and boarded the bus to the Samadhi. The Samadhi had been open since evening Arti. Many pilgrims continued singing there. It was such a beautiful way to bring in the New Year. Everyone singing with love in their heart for the Beloved. After Arti we said 'Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai' seven times, then we all dispersed to our rooms.

In His sweet love, Judy

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