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Birthday Bliss 2016
Janmadin ki Jay Jay! An Account of Gurumayi's Birthday Celebration, Shree Muktananda Ashram, June 23 - 30, 2016

Janmadin ki Jay Jay! - Part VII

Part VII

An Ecstatic Celebration

It was now time for the naivedya ceremony, the sacred offering of food.

I’ve always been touched by the beauty and significance of this Vedic ritual. Naivedya blesses the food, those who offer the food, and those who are nourished by the food. And our naivedya offering to Gurumayi would be—most fittingly—a birthday cake!

I was one of the three members of the music ensemble who would be singing the stotram. I held the awareness that with each syllable of the Annapurna Stotram, we were making an offering to the goddess Annapurna herself.

O Mother Annapurna, O Great Goddess,

who always bestows happiness,
grants gifts, and dispels fear,

O ocean of beauty

who bestows purity on your devotees,
washing away all their sins,

You are truly the great goddess who purifies the Himalayas

(by having been born as the daughter of the King Himavan);
presiding deity of Kashi, be gracious to me and grant me alms.
1

As we sang the mantras, I felt I was tapping into a reservoir of stillness and peace deep within my being. And it seemed that the whole hall was permeated with stillness as well. There was a profound silence within the sound, and I could imagine the blessings of the Devi radiating out to uplift the world.

When the stotram concluded, everyone sat quietly for a few moments, assimilating the power of the mantras as the ensemble played a musical interlude.

Then we saw it: the magnificent birthday cake, being wheeled up the center aisle of Shri Nilaya by three of the sevites who had helped bake the cake. The ensemble sang “A Song of Jubilation—Happy Birthday, Beloved.” The children could not contain themselves at the sight of the cake. They began to talk all at once. “Cake!” “YEAH!” “It’s really BIG!” Laughter rippled throughout the hall in response to the children’s delight.

Aditya Mavallipalli, a visiting sevite originally from Chennai, India, stood to read the English translation of the naivedya mantras, which we would be singing next. He read them so movingly that the words went straight into our hearts.

The second verse in particular resonated with me:

O Lord, with this offering of food

we pray that you make our devotion to you unwavering.

Please accept this naivedya,

and grant us that which we truly long for,
in both the outer world and the inner world.

May the fulfillment of our longing lead us to liberation.2

The bassoon played a gentle introduction, then I joined three other vocalists in singing the naivedya mantras. It was an honor to offer these mantras to Gurumayi on behalf of all the Siddha Yogis around the world. And it was a profound experience. With each word, each phrase I sang, I could perceive the sacredness of this ritual.
As the naivedya mantras concluded, there was a brief silence, rich and vibrating with energy. The naivedya to our beloved Guru was complete.

Just then, we heard from the children again. Their excitement was bursting forth, and they started calling out cake flavors: “Strawberry!” “Chocolate!” “Vanilla!” “Raspberry!” Gurumayi smiled and invited them to take a closer look at the cake. The children hurried to gather around the cake, gazing at it in wonder.

The birthday cake was incredibly beautiful. After the satsang, when the cake was on display in Nidhi Chauk, I learned that the main inspiration was Gurumayi’s Message for 2016:

Move with steadfastness
toward becoming
anchored
in Supreme Joy

The island on top of the cake depicts the ethereal abode of the goddess Sarasvati, an aspect of the Devi who represents creativity, inspiration, music, and artistry. Her instrument, the veena, rests underneath a tree on this island. The swan, hamsa, is Sarasvati’s vehicle. There are two swans on the cake, and they are gliding majestically across the water of Consciousness. In the Yajur Veda, an ancient scripture of India, the swan is described as swimming across the ocean of existence without getting its feathers wet, thus representing the power of spiritual discernment.
Adorning the base of the cake are peonies made of sugar. Peonies bloom on the sacred grounds of Shree Muktananda Ashram each year during the month of Birthday Bliss. The cake also features lotus-shaped candles, as a symbol of the Goddess’s divine light.
In the satsang, a second celebratory cake topped with candles was brought to Gurumayi. Gurumayi lit the candles on the cake and invited the children to gather around. With joy and devotion, we all sang “Happy Birthday to You,” and then one of the young boys led us in the second verse, “May God bless you!” Gurumayi took a sparkler from the table with the cake and lit it from one of the candles. The tip of the sparkler was in the shape of an infinity symbol. Gurumayi waved the sparkler in the air, tracing an infinity shape and sending out a shower of tiny golden lights. The children exclaimed with delight.
Gurumayi blew out the candles with the help of the children, and we all clapped and cheered. As Gurumayi prepared to cut the cake, Gurumayi invited one of the children to help her. It was so sweet to watch Gurumayi encourage him and praise his efforts as he cut the first slice. Gurumayi then invited all the children to go to Nidhi Chauk to taste the cake.
Gurumayi invited young Tejas to gather all the Trustees participating in the satsang to have their photo taken around the cake. As they got into place around the cake, Gurumayi asked the musicians to sing the song “Amazing Grace.” Everybody joined in. As we sang, I realized how precisely the words expressed the happiness and gratitude in our hearts. One of the verses says:

When we’ve been here ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ll have no less days
To sing God’s praise
Than when we'd first begun.

Click here to read the Annapurna Stotram

Click here to read Part VIII

 

 

1, 2English translation: © 2016 SYDA Foundation®

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Annapurna Stotram
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It means so much to me to participate in the Birthday Bliss celebration through all parts of this Account.

Thank you, Gurumayi. This is truly inspiring.

Cologne, Germany

I felt the beauty of the photos, the exquisite sounds of the chants, and the purity of the reading envelop me in absolute stillness as I read this account of Gurumayi’s birthday celebration. My heart melted in gratitude to Gurumayi for taking birth in this world!


New Hampshire, USA