A Cultural Feast

Sannyasi Karmayogini (Australia)

Paramahamsa Satyananda played host and welcomed each and every guest, even washing the feet of some. (This brought to my mind the image of Christ washing the feet of his disciples.)

The Akhara radiated with beauty and purity and the organizational team worked as tirelessly and efficiently as bees, adapting effortlessly, so that the nine day program ran without a hitch.

Paramahamsaji treated us to a cultural feast with a taste from some of the many rich traditions of India. Each day's menu included:

  • Singing kirtan in Harla Jori temple each morning before dawn and experiencing the still, clear, pure vibrations of bhramamuhurta amplified in that beautiful temple. And many of us enjoyed walking back from the temple to the Akhara at dawn.
  • Experiencing the power of ancient tantric rituals, the yajnas and poojas conducted beautifully by the tantric yoginis. (Initially I found the long periods of sitting an endurance test, but when my body and mind finally surrendered to that experience, I was able to realize the presence of unseen forces.)
  • Delicious meals, which were lovingly prepared and generously served by a tireless kitchen crew.
  • A selection of some of India's richest forms of devotional expression. These included Sikhs singing devotional songs; Pandavani artists bringing excerpts from the Mahabharata to life with storytelling and song; Kuchipudi dancers with their exquisite portrayal of traditional stories.

And as if this wasn't enough, throughout the whole program Paramahamsaji showered us all individually with prasad. This prasad took many different forms so that we each received according to our need. Fruit, books, T-shirts, saris and shawls for devotees; schoolbags and supplies for the local school children; a monthly stipend for the old men from the neighbourhood; sewing machines, rickshaws and cows for local villagers; and sweets and more sweets for us all. Every morning bundles of clothing and other household items were delivered to local families in the villages.

On the ninth day, the cultural feast culminated with the celebration of the marriage of Sita and Rama, and also that of a Spanish couple who played the parts of Rama and Sita.

For me, the experience was not only that of Paramahamsaji's endless giving, but also of broadening my understanding and appreciation of different cultures and religions and being carried through nine very full days with high energy and inspiration.