I landed up at the Ashram on 30th March to find a large number of people already gathered for the Celebrations.There was a buzz of activity around the Ashram,last minute preparations,getting together of old friends .Even Hira Singh and Pan Singhs Tea Stalls were spruced up and ready for the next ten days.
We went during the day to Maha Shakti Dhuni and the Company Bagh garden was resplendent in a riot of colours red,yellow,violet.Across the river on Gufa Side large number of Karma Yogis were hard at work.All the temples were meticulously painted.The new Babaji Building was ready and waiting for the arrival of devotees.GaurHari was going about deftly commandeering his volunteer force to make everything ready for the Navratras starting next day.
The Navratri Celebrations coincide with the 1st day of the Indian Calender and was formally started by the reading of the Predictions for the New year ahead.As always it evinced great interest among the audience and I was inundated with requests to send a soft copy of the predictions in English.This is being done.
We quickly fell into the hectic and tight schedule of Navratri interspersed with cups of tea/coffee.This year the Samaj had arranged to serve tea soon after Chandan and this was very much appreciated by everybody.
A new activity was fitted in after the Havan and before Bhandara.Since there were a very large number of new devotees both Indian and foreign ,it was thought that a Satsang/ Dialogues in Divinity would be a good program to share personal experiences of old devotees with the new.LokNathji coordinated this program and it proved to be immensely popular as evidenced by the overflowing hall in the new Babaji
Kuthir .There were wonderful stories told by Bhagwan Rana,Lok Nath ,Ram Lota,Sondra Ray,Shri Sharmaji and Shri Saksena and other old Babaji devotees.Shri Mayapati Tripathi and Shri Vinode Shashtriji also came to adress the gathering on two days and spoke about the significance of rituals like Chandan,Havan and the Nine Day Yagna for Devi in her nine forms.From everyone’s feedback this was a very useful and interesting program and we hope to make it a permanent feature in future Navratris.
By about the third day of Navratri Ashram was filled up to capacity and more were coming in each day.We had to accommodate people in the hospital halls etc.I have never seen such long and serpentine lines in recent years for Chandan which lasted for over an hour and half.The temple hall was overflowing during morning and evening Aarti and we had to put mats outside near Babaji Samadhi to accommodate people.I will say that we had about seven hundred devotees both Indian and foreign this year.
Another highlight this year was some outstanding cultural events like classical Bharat Natyam Dance by UmaDevi of Germany and some excellent Sarod and dance performance by internationally renowned Shri Mukesh Sharma and Shrimati Savitri Sharma.We also had a masterly rendition on Tabla by our Gurubhai Imam who had very generously arranenged for this program.Most of all were the many magical moments of Bhajans which make the Navratris so special.Moti Ma,Champua,Mukundi ,Vinode Shashtriji enthralled and mesmerised the audience.There were also an amazing crop of new and talented artists.
One of the most memorable experiences for me was the All Night Bhajan and Chanting at Maha Shakti Dhuni.Words are too inadequate to describe the spiritual energy of this event.It just fill you up with Devine energy and bliss.
Most of the devotees who came felt that this years Navratri was special -it was very tranquil and yet very intense.
I have one other observation and that is we had a large presence of younger generation .Standing tall(literally)among the new generation was Raghu and Hari Har sons of Our gurubhais Raghubir and Hargovind.It was a pleasure to see them helped by many other young devotees like the beautiful daughters of Parvati from Bali managing the distribution of Prasad.BBKJ.
I will fail in my duty if I donot acknowledge the hard work and devotion of so many people who made this Navratri so special.Beautiful and fresh garlands from Laxmi and her team,wonderful Bhandaras from Sandeep and his team of cooks and service people,Shivani,Premdas,Nidhi kishore,Karma Singh,Ram Lota who ensured perfection at Havan ,Tiger Singh and his family,Sangeeta and Govardhan at Dhuni ,Sabina and her team at the office,Kunti and her colleagues at the Bhakti Bhandar and so many more people who served Babaji and ensured a wonderful Navratri for us.
In conclusion I will say that I had a sense that here in Haidakhan Babaji was inspiring and managing its affairs.His overwhelming presence was evident and even though very hectic and sometimes physically exhausting the bliss experienced was sublime .His Grace was evident and ever present in everything.
Bhole Baba Ki Jai