Judy Stephens

Meherabad, 1952


15 February to 29 February 2008

Jai Meher Baba to you all!

We have been so busy! In fact, I decided to look at our statistics to see what the numbers were this pilgrim season. We have had 200 pilgrims (our full capacity) four different days. This of course does not count the Amartithi period when we had 300 pilgrims. Then I looked at how many days we had 150 pilgrims or more-24 days. I did not count days where we had 149 or less. This is a building where we wondered when we opened how often we may use the upstairs rooms. Remember, at the Meher Pilgrim Center we only had 56 beds. This is a big jump-and the number of pilgrims coming has jumped with the size of the building.

Oh, I wanted to share with you something I saw on the road to Ahmednagar one day in January. I saw this bullock cart with a man on it coming down the road. And, he was talking on a cell phone! It looked so strange! Here was an ancient way of travel (bullock cart) and the latest of modern technology (cell phone), together, in use!

Friday 15 February 2008. This was the first day of the Sahavas. The programs all took place in the ampi-theater near the Samadhi. The three front row seats were for the Sahavas guests, all of who came to the 1958 Sahavas here with Beloved Baba. I videoed both the morning, and afternoon sessions. But, since I had not done any videoing in a long time, I forgot to bring the extra batteries. This made one of the cameras useless when the battery went dead. I had a smaller, hand-held camcorder, but I am not sure how steady it was. But, in the afternoon, I had all the batteries I needed.

Each evening I charged all the batteries overnight.

Saturday 16 February. Again I was up the hill to video the Sahavas for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Sunday 17 February. This was the final day of the Sahavas. Once again I was up the hill all day to video, both the morning and afternoon sessions. I was feeling pretty exhausted when it was over. So, I will leave stories about the Sahavas to others who attended. I'm sure someone will write about it. Then you will be able to read about the wonderful stories told by those who came here in 1958.

The weather hanged from cool to hot just before the Sahavas began three days ago.

Monday 18 February. I was on duty at the MPR. Though the Sahavas is over, we still have around 170 pilgrims. The number of pilgrims will get higher closer to Baba's birthday.

Tuesday 19 February. I woke early and did my workout. Then I got ready and went to the MPC to meet with Fara (a pilgrim) and Abbas (a Meherabad resident). Abbas is an Iranian resident here at Meherabad and he is going to learn to do the Historical Tour of Meherabad. We now get many Iranians who come on pilgrimage, many do not speak English. Abbas will give the Tour in Farsi. Abbas does not speak English, so Fara did the translation. She brought her tape recorder, and the three of us went to all the sites in Lower Meherabad. I would first tell the stories in English, and then Fara would translate them into Farsi. We will continue Upper Meherabad another day.

In the evening at 6:00 PM I had Samadhi duty.

Wednesday 20 February. I was on duty at the Retreat, and it was very busy today. I only had about eleven arrivals, but with so many pilgrims here, there were a lot of needs in many areas. The weather has changed, and the cold days seemed to be over.

When I got home, I got my things ready to go to Pune for a couple of days with two other people.

Thursday 21 February. I went to Pune with two other Baba lovers. We stayed over night. I had my hair done in the morning, and then we decided to go to the movies. We saw the movie 'Jumper'.

Friday 22 February. When we got ready to return to Meherabad, we stopped to pick up my suitcase I had fixed. One of the wheels had come off and the shop replaced it. We got home in time for me to pick flowers for morning.

Saturday 23 February. After cleaning Baba's Cabin Room, Dolly gave the new cloths to change for the Cabin. These were put on for Baba's Birthday.

I then walked to the Retreat to put a notice on the Dining Hall door, asking for volunteers to help decorate the MPR foyer for Baba's Birthday at 2:00 PM. Then I walked home to get ready to do the Historical Tour of Meherabad.

Only two pilgrims were waiting. One of the pilgrims had an appointment at 12:00 noon, so we only went around Lower Meherabad. I then walked to the BT Café for lunch.

I walked to the Retreat again in the afternoon to decorate. As soon as the porters and I got out the decorations, many Baba lovers came to help. In a little over two hours everything looked very beautiful! People seem to enjoy decorating.

Sunday 24 February. After my morning workout, I walked up to the Retreat to put two signs up. One was to let pilgrims know I would be away from the Reception Office on Monday from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. I was going to go to the Baba Birthday play. The other notice was to invite any pilgrim wishing to help string and cut flowers for the Samadhi to do so under the Tin Shed around teatime.

Then I walked to the BT Café for lunch. Other pilgrims were there and we had a lively talk. It is fun because you never know who will be there.

I set my alarm for 2:30 AM and went to sleep.

Monday 25 February. Beloved Avatar Meher Baba's 114th Birthday! I woke to the alarm waking me at 2:30 AM. I happily got up and dressed and was out the door by 3:15 AM. I wore a lovely white Punjabi outfit. I decided not to ware a Sari, as I would take at least one hour to put it on. I'm not very good at it, with little practice.

When I got up the hill, there were already a number of people there. I put something on the front bench facing the doorway to save a place to sit, then went into the Samadhi to help lay the many cloths that were being put on top of the marble shrine. With so many garlands that will be put on the Samadhi during the day, many cloths need to cover the marble to protect it.

I then got in line for Darshan before the line got too long. After Darshan I sat and just enjoyed being with Baba. The line and the portal area soon filled with His lovers. At eight minutes to 5:00 AM. Ted Judson made the announcement that at five minutes to 5:00 AM we would began chanting Baba's name. Then at 5:00 AM we would say Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai seven times. Prayers and Arti would be next, and then we would sing Happy Birthday to Baba.

When we began chanting Beloved Baba's name, the atmosphere was charged with such a blissful feeling. Tears soon filled my eyes. I noticed the pilgrim next to me also had tears in her eyes. We looked at each other with complete understanding. Oh, the joy of loving Baba is so great!!!!!

When the Happy Birthday singing was over, everyone sat and took turns singing. Most songs were 'sing-along' ones that all could share in. At some point, I got up to get my bowl of Prasad—yes that is right! We get a bowl full of Prasad, all kinds of sweet yummies!

The hill was so crowded with His lovers—everyone happy in His love. All these people, from all walks of life, from so many countries, from so many religions—and all hugging each other. All happily saying 'Happy Baba Birthday'! As Francis Brabazan said, "What a mighty Beloved, Baba is!"

I made my way to the tea serving area under the Tin Shed. It too was packed with His lovers. That area is also so very pretty with decorations. I had a cup of delicious tea, said hello to many more pilgrims, and then went back down the hill to get ready to go to the MPR.

I had a rickshaw take me up to the Retreat a little early because we were so busy with 200 pilgrims. Some pilgrims checked out, planning to leave later. And I had 18 expected arrivals.

There was a note on my desk saying to have the pilgrims who had not yet gotten their Birthday Play ticket, to be sure and get one or they would not be allowed into the theater.

So, what I did was go to each of the tables in the Dining Hall and announce that if anyone needed a ticket to come into the Reception Office. The morning continued in a flow of needs to be handled—but it went smoothly I am happy to say.

I took a rickshaw at 2:00 PM to my room to rest for a short while. I could feel my body starting to crash from lack of sleep and the busy schedule we have had. I rested for 40 minutes and then went to the Music and Arts Center.

The 3rd annual Art Exhibition was on the verandah. Different artists were able to display some of their works. There are some very talented artists here. I noticed the tables were being set up to serve tea and chocolate cake. There are now three different areas that the tables are put up. This keeps the lines from being too long.

By 4:30 PM the theater was packed and Alan came onto the stage to announce the program. The play would be about Mehera's early life and her becoming Baba's Beloved.

First the workers from the Trust compound accounting office sang a Bajan they wrote. They are very good. Next, the Birthday choir came on stage. Hooyar, one of our pilgrims from Iran, wrote the song they sang.

Then the play began. Everything about the production was well done. How these wonderful plays are put on year after year in only 10 days of preparation is truly an amazing feat. When the love is great to serve Him, the effort and energy is just there!

Bhauji and Meheru were both in attendance. The story included the wedding of Rustom and Freni, Meheru's parents. Freni was Mehera's sister.

Tuesday 26 February. In the area between Meher English School and my home, there is around a third of a mile of open area. In part of this area is a cleared space for sports. Often the village children will play soccer or cricket there.

Yesterday, I had heard loudspeaker announcements coming from the open area. When I passed this place during my morning walk, I saw a decorated booth, and people smoothing the ground. I later found out from one of our workers, that the official Ahmednagar Cricket Clubs were having their competitions. In Arangaon, the village next to Meherabad, there is a team called the Meher Cricket Club; a Cricket Club sponsored by the Trust. I have been informed they have been the number one winner for some time. This tournament will continue for several days.

In the evening I had Samadhi duty at 6:00 PM. So many pilgrims are still here, so you can imagine the wonderful singing at the Samadhi.

Wednesday 27 February. I was on duty at the Retreat. I had ten arrivals; two of them were Russian. We now have seventeen Russians here! We hardly had any Russians, and now seventeen—I really love to see so many coming from countries where so few pilgrims came from before.

It was a very busy day, and I was happy to be off at 6:00 PM. Jal and Dolly had their annual wedding anniversary party in the evening after Arti. Everyone was invited, including all the 150 pilgrims. It was so much fun! Beer, wine, and lots of food were served. Music for dancing played throughout. Periodically there would be a toast to Jal and Dolly, or Jal would say something. There must have been over a hundred people dancing! At one point, some Russian music was put on and some of our Russian pilgrims did a special dance. But, I think the Fire Dance was one thing everyone was absolutely captivated by.

There are two pilgrims here who are professional Fire Dance performers. It was amazing to watch. The both have hand held metal holders that have fire in them, and also long chains with fire in metal holders at the end. Watching them alternate using them, and interacting with each other while doing this was truly astounding!

Thursday 28 February. This was the last day Meherazad was open until next July. They close for the summer. I had a car pick Marge and me up. We then got Virginia and went to Meherazad. I used one of the wheelchairs for Virginia. Last time we went, she would get tired easily when walking.

It is always so sweet to see the love everyone showers on Virginia. The two pilgrims who did the Fire Dance at the party also performed for Meheru and Katie. This time they used cloth flags instead of fire. The Russians did a dance after this. It was really a fun morning at Meherazad.

We stopped for Ice Cream on the way home. Just past the Yash Palace Hotel our car broke down. We got out to take a rickshaw, but before we got in, Martin and Christine came along and gave us a ride.

Virginia and I were going to a birthday lunch for someone at Alan's house. Martin and Christine gave us a ride there. It was so kind of them. The lunch was delicious, and we all enjoyed the relaxing time. I then had a rickshaw take Virginia home.

When I got home I worked on the patchwork quilt until I went to sleep.

Friday 29 February. I slept late, and then went for a nice long walk. I got ready in time to take our bus to the Trust Office in Ahmednagar. I stopped to see Meher Tailor and order twenty-five more Baba flags. We will use them during the New Life Walk we have every 16th October from the Trust to the Samadhi.

After going to the bank, I went home and then rode my bicycle to the B. T. Café. My bicycle rides like a tank. I've had it since 1990. As I was chatting with a woman at the Café, she asked if I knew anyone who had a bicycle she could use while she was here at Meherabad. I said, "Yes, you could use mine." I found it is more comfortable to walk. I think I need a new bicycle.

The weather has really begun to get warmer; I think I may buy a nice big cooler next week. It is hard to work on the quilt in my room when it is so hot!

In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy

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