Gurumayi said, “The Indian participants may come forward and receive the blessings from the puja.” My feeling was that Gurumayi was inviting the participants of Indian descent because for us, performing puja is an integral part of our upbringing, as are the traditions and rituals that accompany puja.
I recalled my own childhood days at home in Mumbai when we would offer puja together as a family. Every evening my parents would light the lamps on the special puja table; then we would wave the arati tray and recite prayers together. I feel blessed to have had parents who taught me the importance of daily worship. In fact, so ingrained was this sacred tradition that until the end of his days, my father always ensured the lamps on the altar were lit twice a day.
Gurumayi held the arati lamp, and the Indian participants came forward in turn. Each one circled their hand over the flame, then over their head, and touched their heart.
In the perfection of this moment, I felt a most sublime lightness of being. I experienced a gentle release from the limitations of my physical body and an ineffable connection with everything around me, in step with the heavenly beat. All that remained was this serene and ethereal easefulness.
One of the Indian participants later shared with me her own experience of receiving the blessings of the sacred flame. She said she could feel the blessings as waves of warmth, love, and protection spreading through every cell in her being.
At the completion of this sublime ritual, Gurumayi stepped up onto the marble platform and placed the arati lamp on a stand before Bade Baba’s murti. She invited the Indian participants to step up onto the platform to receive prasad.
It is the Indian tradition that when prasad is given in abundance, you extend your shawl to receive it. One by one the other Indian participants came forward and reverently spread their shawl, or whatever cloth was available to them, to receive Gurumayi’s prasad.
I felt in my heart that the participants on whom this abundance of guruprasad was being bestowed were ambassadors carrying Gurumayi’s love and blessings to Gurudev Siddha Peeth and to all the devotees throughout the whole of India.
As I watched Gurumayi giving so plentifully, I remembered that during the Mahalakshmi puja, I’d had a vision of abundance. In my vision, wherever I looked I saw orchards with rows and rows of trees laden with plump, ripe fruits. It felt as if Mother Earth were bestowing the blessings of her endless bounty upon us. In the same way, I experienced that Gurumayi’s generosity is truly boundless.
Many decades ago in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, I received a profound teaching from Baba Muktananda on how to receive prasad. After the evening chant, Baba used to distribute prasad to us with his own hands. One night I heard him gently admonish a devotee, who had proffered just one hand to receive this prasad. “Don't be such a pauper (daridri)!” he said. “Receive with both hands!”
Contemplating Baba’s words, I began to understand the abundance of grace. The Guru always gives unreservedly, and I need only open my heart and allow myself to receive this sacred munificence fully, without reservation—“with both hands.”
After the prasad was distributed, everyone returned to their seats, and we all sat quietly relishing the culmination of the puja in honor of Gurumayi’s birthday. As I looked around the temple I could see, in the light of the candles that shone brilliantly, the glowing faces of the participants. They were suffused with sweetness, gratitude, and contentment.
A few moments later, Gurumayi turned to Meera, the event director, and asked her to acknowledge Manju-didi. The reason Gurumayi asked Meera to convey this acknowledgement is that in 2009, Meera offered seva as the assistant to the Trustees of Gurudev Siddha Peeth and the Siddha Yoga Sangham of India. She therefore knows Manju-didi well.
Meera then introduced Lavanya and Aditya Mavillapalli and their seven-year-old son, visiting sevites originally from Chennai, India, and currently living in Michigan.
After Meera completed the introductions, she sat down. As we sat, I became keenly aware of the silence in the Temple. I watched Gurumayi. Her eyes were resting on Bade Baba’s golden form. She seemed totally absorbed in Bade Baba.
In the pulsating silence that enveloped the temple, I heard Gurumayi say, “The padukas— they look so beautiful. There is always a special energy that emerges after a puja. Doesn’t the Temple feel different now from when you first arrived? Bade Baba looks so extremely happy.”
For a few moments we all sat in silence gazing at Bade Baba’s golden form, absorbed in the beauty of his divine smile, drinking in his nectarean love.
Again a feeling of abundance arose within me. This was a satsang of abundance, an abundance of abundance! I wondered how I could express my gratitude for the priceless opportunity to participate in this mahapuja with Gurumayi. The final verse of Tvameva mata came to mind:
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