24-31 Jan 2013
24-31 Jan 2013
Jai Meher Baba to you all!
Thursday 24 January 2013. I went up the hill early to clean Mehera's shrine before getting in line to take darshan in the Samadhi when the doors opened. Today was my oldest daughter's birthday. Her name is also Mehera. I had garlands to put on Beloved Baba's Samadhi, as well as for Mehera, Mani, Baba's Room, and the Gadi. After doing that I put my IPod on and went for a power-walk to the MPR and back to my room.
I spent most of the day doing things in my room. I also had a lovely nap. Later, I drove to the Page house to check on it. When I got back to my room I was looking at the Amartithi schedule for Orientations. Horrors! Debjani and I had printed out last years schedule our dates were all off. I immediately texted Debjani. She texted back that, yes, it was last years. She said she would change the ones she was going to hand out. Boy, I sure am glad the mistake was caught in time!
In the evening, I sent my daughter some Internet Birthday Cards. It was fun choosing from such a large selection.
Friday 25 January. I went up the hill early to take darshan in Baba's Samadhi when the doors opened. While waiting I was talking to Coo Coo. She said a few hundred volunteers would be coming today and tomorrow. They are the heads of the different areas. The rest of the 1,200 volunteers will come by Tuesday.
All over Meherabad the Amartithi preparations are in full swing. On the hill around the Samadhi the whole hill is having the colorful pandals put on top. The undersides are so pretty, with lots and lots of colors. The barrels with the painted directions are going to their required places. In only five days Amartithi will start!
My neighbor, Paul, came over to download the printer CD disk so he will be able to use it for printing. I have offered the printer use to a couple of residents because it is supposed to be used at least once every two weeks. Often my use would be once every few months. That would not be good for the printer heads, as using ink keeps them clean.
This morning I felt so proud of myself! I connected my IPhone 4 to my computer ITunes music and synced a lot of files of different kind of song I had. I also put several games I play. It was fun to feel I could do this without asking for help.
After a nice nap I did a DVD workout. It always feels good after I finish. Too bad I had to talk myself sometimes into doing the workout. I don't always do it willingly.
Saturday 26 January. I went up the hill early to clean Mani's shrine before taking darshan in the Samadhi when the doors opened. I then went to clean Baba's Room. I collected my flowers when I finished and walked to the Jhopdi to clean it and the Table House. After breakfast I went to the MPC to take anyone waiting for the Tour of Historic Meherabad.
No one was waiting, so I had the rest of the morning off. I took my camera and took shots of some of the preparations for Amartithi. Everywhere you look colorful cloths are being placed near accommodations to give extra space for pilgrims to stay. The remaining of the 1,200 volunteers has arrived in Hostel-D and Hostel-C. Many pilgrims are staying in private accommodations, like the Andhra Pradesh house. It has three floors, plus they are putting up tents and will be able to house 1000 pilgrims. It is quite exciting and the energy is becoming intense. Pilgrims are so full of love for Baba and very excited to be here. It is wonderful to experience.
Sunday 27 January. I woke at 3:00 AM and could not fall asleep again. So, I went up the hill early to take darshan when the Samadhi doors opened. I then went back to my room and took a short nap.
This was the morning we were going to do the annual cleaning of Baba's Room, which we always do just before Amartithi. We had a group of five to clean. Two tall men, Danny and Vladan, cleaned the outside of the cabin Room. They had done this before so I didn't have to tell them what to do. Inside were Zahra, Medhi, and myself. We even wiped the ceiling. We cleaned every corner of the room so it would be ready for the thousands of His lovers coming in three days.
Since there wasn't any Meherazad, I didn't stop at my usual restaurant for lunch. But, I did pick up some food on the way to the Trust to eat it there. I then put my sari on for Bhauji's Chat.
Bhauji's Chat room was full by the time Bhau came in. Everyone looked so pretty in saris and nice Raj shirts, or lately, suits as well. Because I had woke up so early I was having a hard time keeping my eyes opened. At break time, instead of having tea and biscuits, I decided to go home and sleep. I told others to please tell Bhau I am too sleepy to stay awake and have gone home.
Monday 28 January. I slept late. All the preparations for Amartithi and all the intense energy have me already tired. It is not a good place to be in before Amartithi even starts!
I had the scheduled volunteer orientation for Baba's Room at 5:00 pm. We met up the hill at Baba's Cabin Room. Because of the mistake in the printout of orientation times, I had scheduled my time at the same time I had Samadhi duty. Since I could not be in two places at the same time I had another resident, Margaret, cover for me until I could be there. My Samadhi duty was from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.
The Orientation started at 5:00 and went to 6:30 pm because of the number of volunteers, and the questions those who were doing it for the first time were asking. With this interest among the volunteers, things should go pretty well. Robin and I also gave our cell phone numbers so the volunteers could call one of us if they are going to be late or for some reason are not able to make their shift.
I then quickly went to take over at the Samadhi. After Arti a friend and I went for dinner. I usually eat a light dinner, salad and later yogurt. But, I hadn't had time to visit this friend and so we had chicken and other yummy stuff.
Tuesday 29 January. I went up the hill early to clean Mani's shrine before taking darshan when the Samadhi doors opened. I then cleaned Baba's Room with Zahra and a pilgrim helping. After cleaning we had to change all the cloths in the room. We got two more men, and together we all changed the stretcher, first by carefully moving it on its side. The heavy teak wood covers and protects the stretcher.
I then drove to the Page house to pick up some cloths I need more of for Amartithi. Then I drove to the Trust and took rickshaw into bazaar. I needed some matching cloth for cleaning in Baba's Room. I also bought some color baskets that match the color cloths. I use different colors so it is easier for pilgrims to know which cleans Baba's photo, which the stretcher, which the frames, etc.
I had Samadhi duty from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. I drove up the hill, but I had to wait fifteen minutes at the railroad crossing. The hill was full of pilgrims. All the volunteers had arrived, as well as pilgrims staying in private quarters. During my two-hour shift I allowed four different women to have a turn in giving Prasad. The pilgrims really enjoy being able to do this service.
Because of the railing for the darshan lines, during Amartithi, if you have duty you need to enter from the West side of the Samadhi. There was not much Prasad, so we went to find more. We managed to get enough until one of the Supervisors came and brought lots of bags of Prasad.
Jal Dastoor announced we had to have the hill cleared of all pilgrims no later than 8:30 PM. So, we needed to move the line quickly of pilgrims taking darshan inside the Samadhi. The hill needed to be cleared so the Trust workers could lay down all the tarps that were to cover the ground. There were stacks and stacks of these tarp on one side of the hill, and the whole hill needed time to put them down. This is done only on the night before the opening of Amartithi.
Wednesday 30 January. I woke at 5:00 AM. All night long buses full of pilgrims have been rolling in. All so filled with love and joy to be here with Baba on this very awesome celebration.
From my room I could hear the whistles being blown by those directing the incoming traffic of buses, jeeps, vans, cars, and anything else that moves. Soon there would be every kind of vehicle here, many with His flag flying from the front; and the whole of Meherabad, lower, upper, and outer, will be filled with His lovers.
I have been feeling this and saying this since yesterday, "Let the games begin!" There is a certain energy that has been building and it is powerful. It is like the Wine Shop of the Beloved is bursting to be blown open for all to come inside and get intoxicated! In fact, just being near the Wine Shop one gets intoxicated! What love the Beloved holds for His lovers!
Zahra, Medhi, and I all set up Baba's Cabin Room for Amartithi. There was a line already formed and pilgrims taking darshan. This line never stopped for most of Amartithi. I had Robin helping with the supervising and everything went so smoothly. We had a cleaning schedule for every four hours; which were every two shifts, each being two hours. So Baba's Room was kept clean the whole time and the schedule of volunteers had very few problems.
When the Celebration officially opened it started with the prayers of all the world religions. Susie Biddu, Robin Oppenheim, Zahra Ghazi, and I (Judy Stephens) did the Christian prayer and then the Jewish prayer. It was the first time I was able to share in doing it. Every week at Bhauji's Chat we sing all the prayers, except for the Christian prayer, which is only said, not sung.
Later, a car drove up to the inside entrance of the compound on the hill, right next to Baba's Room. In the car was Bhauji. His team, including all those who regularly visit him, surrounded the car and made a corridor of protection for him to go through from his car to the Samadhi.
Bhauji was helped from his car into a wheelchair. His hat was put on his head. The line for darshan was stopped so Bhau could take darshan inside the Samadhi. When he was wheeled out and taken to Mehera's side, the darshan line started once again. Bhauji then came to Mani's side to pay his respects. He then went to the other women Mandali's shrines on that side before coming out a side gate. Again the corridor of hands protecting Bhauji from the huge crowd allowed him to make his way back to his car. Bhau would greet the pilgrims with folded hands. All the pilgrims were very happy to see Bhauji.
At first I joined in holding hands for the corridor. But, when Bhau came out of the Samadhi I wanted to capture him in photo for others to see. I left the corridor and went inside it with my IPhone camera and kept taking as many photos as I could. I continued this even as Bhauji got into his car. The photos are not that great, but it was the only camera I had and at least you can see him.
-Lots of photos of Bhauji at the Samadhi and getting into his car.
Thursday 31 January. I had gone to bed late last night. I just have trouble staying awake all night. Robin has a friend named Jai (pronounced Jay) who had helped last year Amartithi as well as this year. Jai loves to do the all night shifts. Because he did such a great job last year I felt fine to have him do it again the two night of Amartithi. He isn't alone because there are three volunteers per shift. He supervises all night and if there is a problem he could call Robin or me. It is so nice to feel the freedom of knowing all is well during the night.
In the morning, when I got up the hill, I had gone to clean the Samadhi back window. Robin, Zahra, and I are the only ones who clean it. All of us clean during the year up the hill and we know how to take care. When I neared the back window of the Samadhi I saw a man bent down, so very carefully, pinching a little at a time of dirt that was between the Samadhi and the farsi stone around it. There was so little dirt in each pinch, yet he carefully placed it in the palm of his left hand. He was picking up the dirt as if he was handling the most precious object in the world.
I stood back and just watched him in amazement at the depth of love and care he handle each pinch of dirt. 'What love!' I thought to myself. 'What love for his Beloved Baba!' Then he stood, holding his precious treasure, and left. I wondered how he would be able to keep it? In what would he be able to save it? There was so little dirt, yet I knew somehow he would find something to hold it in and always keep it with him.
My favorite time of Amartithi is when the announcement of what we will be doing for Silence is complete and Begin the Beguine is played. This is followed with thousands of pilgrims on the hill beginning to chant Beloved Baba's name to the tune of Meher Dhun. We chant for five minutes, starting slow and building at a faster pace. It is almost electrifying, the energy and joy expressed by thousands. How to share such power of joy surging from each heart? This builds to the point where at the prompting of the commentator we shout "Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai." Then complete silence. Such silence you could hear a pin drop.
This year I felt the Silence was more powerful than every before. I felt as if I were merging into an energy field of such power and silence. I didn't want it to end. Yet, the fifteen minutes from 12:00 noon to 12:15 pm did pass. I was talking with the other volunteers and they too felt it was so very powerful. As if Baba had released even more of His presence to us.
I had the volunteer shift in Baba's Cabin right after the Silence. As soon as the prayers were over most of the crowd went to lunch or prepared to depart and return to their homes. Near 2:00 pm another very moving story of Baba's love touching the heart happened in Baba's Cabin Room.
An Iranian woman who had been here for about one week came into the Cabin. She knelt at the stretcher, near the pillow area. Suddenly, she began having racking sobs. She sobbed and sobbed, her whole body shaking. The pilgrims coming into the cabin to take darshan respectfully walked around her, not wanting to disturb what was obviously a deeply emotional time for the woman.
We who live here in Meherabad have seen this many times. Baba's love is so powerful that the heart cannot resist it. Mani would tell pilgrims when this happened that Baba's love was melting the heart.
After about fifteen minutes, the woman stood and walked to a photo of Baba on the far wall. Again her body shook with sobs. Just then Zahra, one of our Iranian residents, came into the Cabin. As I pointed towards the woman, I quietly told Zahra about her sobbing. Zahra went to her and together they sat in a corner of the Cabin. After some time the woman stood and came out the door. I was standing at the door making sure not too many pilgrims went into the Cabin at one time.
As the Iranian woman went past me, she turned to me with tears running down her cheeks. She kept repeating, "I didn't know. I didn't know who He was. I didn't know." I told her what Mani had said about the heart melting with Baba's love. She threw her arms around me and cried some more. Saying over and over "I didn't know. I didn't know."
Baba had awakened in her heart! His love had broken its Silence in her heart! The love was so beautiful and His presence so strong she at last knew who He was God Himself, our Beloved Meher Baba.
--Lots of photos tell better story
The Amphitheater had performances all day long and into the night. The many loudspeakers made it easy to be able to enjoy the music and singing, even from Baba's Cabin next to the Samadhi. There were so many great performances. I also enjoyed eating the Masala Dosa's that were served in the food tents up the hill.
The weather has been so hot. It looks like we are going to have a very hot summer if it is already so hot. At least for the thousands of pilgrims here, it is better to be hot than cold.
In Beloved Baba's sweet love, Judy