The invitation from Rikhia to attend Sita Kalyanam stated that this would not be an ordinary event. Words written by the rational intellect fall well short in their ability to portray just how extraordinary this event was. With a cast of thousands, the entire ten days was a veritable banquet of different experiences taking place at so many different levels of being at once.
A few personal glimpses in random order: Paramahamsaji, the radiant and dynamic star, seeming to enjoy the proceedings more than ever. Completely in control of everything that was taking place in the vicinity and beyond; playing, singing, giving satsang, telling stories, laughing, yet severely serious when it came to the repeated message of service and selfless giving. You people sit here, asking about spiritual life. I ask what are you doing for those less fortunate than yourselves? Give, give and give, however you can, in whatever way or form you can, wherever and whenever you can.
True to form, this servant of God, as he refers to himself, showed us by example as the wide range of donated items in Prasad Kutir's storehouse which grew daily were and still are being distributed to thousands of families in this poor region of India.
We heard Paramahamsaji's protestations that he did not want to see or hear or think about any of us, that he didn't understand why, or like it that people should want to come for his darshan, whilst simultaneously seeing him sitting on a full tiger skin, glowing and resplendent with a portrayal of the sun behind him, on a high open-sided stand, greeting hundreds of people from every corner of India and all over the world. Many hundreds of us being blessed with the sweetest prasad from him, not once but three times a day, and watching him bestow an almost endless stream of gifts.
Hours of sitting almost motionless seemed to pass like fleeting minutes, effortlessly. The brutal 'shower' that bucketed down, (auspiciously of course, as the women began their chanting and pre-nuptial celebrations with Sita) completely flooding the proceedings with several inches of water in a matter of seconds. As all the participants ran frantically to get under shelter, Swami Niranjan remained outside, with no thought for himself, running, sliding, even slipping in the mud, his concern at that moment being to get peoples' bags, cushions and shoes under dry cover. No mud appeared to stick to his drenched dhoti. Swamiji played his supporting role as master of ceremonies to perfection. Watching over the whole proceedings whilst remaining completely in tune with his guru at all times. To observe just a fraction of his obedience, devotion and humility in serving his guru was inspirational.
There was a strong emphasis again on the role and importance of women: I want to give ladies bicycles, so that they can be independent. (The bicycle shop in Deoghar was working overtime with all the orders that came in). The priestess and her helpers brought from Australia to perform mass in front of some twenty-five nationalities. Paramahamsaji, dressed like a Greek orthodox priest, joined her in the ceremony, giving a radical and true meaning to the word communion.
How very different and exquisitely powerful to witness a devi yajna performed by five tantric yoginis. Heads and hearts were being turned upside down and inside out and then refilled with a subtle but extremely potent blend of infectious shakti divinity and joy. Beautiful bhajans and kirtans were sung, from local women My own discovery Paramahamsaji announced with pride to renowned singers and the 'modern day Meera'. Hundreds and hundreds of Bihari brides and brides-in-law, some shockingly young to the western eye, being bestowed with 'good luck kits' in the form of heavy suitcases loaded with goodies, each and every one handed out personally by Paramahamsaji, tireless and dazzling in his brightly coloured wedding day attire. He told the swamis helping that they were burning up bad karma by assisting him with this auspicious task.
Feeling extremely fortunate and blessed to be presented with a stunning saree, and told by Paramahamsaji to look auspicious for the wedding of Sita and Rama. Being swathed from head to toe in silk for hours provided an insightful experience into new realms of femininity and a personal understanding of the wonderful way Indian women walk!
The wedding itself, again another radical touch as a delightful, dancing English girl led Rama's procession to the altar/stage, to the sounds of an unlikely western upbeat rhythm, devised by Paramahamsaji. The massive crowd surging as one. Immense waves of goodwill and love flowing towards the couple within the absolutely packed Tapovan enclosure. People squeezing into spaces that didn't exist, scrambling on the walls, up in the trees outside, desperate to get a glimpse of shy Sita, who looked as beautiful as Parvati looking down from the painted picture behind her.
There was so much, so many details and observations, but none can relay the feeling of the heart, out of time and space as we usually know it, immersed in the flood of grace, dynamism and omnipotence that abound at the Paramahamsa Alakh Bara.