Before I tell you how we celebrated Mahashivaratri this year, I have to give you the context. Our Premananda Centre in Grenoble is in a state of upheaval – our coordinators Dhanalakshmi and Kasturirangan recently sold their house and the last abhishekam we held in that inspiring and powerful place was in December of 2020. This was the Centre where I had ‘met’ Swami and his mission in 2002, and leaving it was particularly moving for me. It was also, of course, a milestone in the lives of our coordinators.
We were saddened that, due to the international health situation, our coordinators could not go to India like they’ve done every year since the ‘90s but, on the other hand, I also felt a little happy to be able to organize this celebration with them. Their way of running the Centre is very simple: everyone shares their ideas for what we could do, the various proposals are discussed and then validated or not (usually yes!) and then each one of us takes on a task and everything falls easily into place. It is always a great experience of cooperation. This time Dhanalakshmi and Kasturirangan stayed a bit behind the scene so as to let us free to do what we were used to doing and I felt a lot of respect in this attitude. Everything went very naturally, each of us offered to do something useful or bring something to the celebration and a precise programme was set up a few days before the ‘D-day’.
The 11th of March I woke up with an extremely powerful feeling of gratitude, for while so much of the world was being shaken with fear, we were going to take part in a spiritual celebration, with the joy and love of the Divine! How fortunate! I don’t think I had ever felt so lucky to belong to Swamiji’s mission.
It must be said that during the last ten months of the Covid crisis, we have only been able to come together for two abhishekams, whereas before the centre regularly organized a program every week. It was therefore with special pleasure that we shared the work of preparing for this sacred event.
Our programme included abhishekams performed to five lingams, four of which were manifested by Swamiji, with, in between, satsangs, the sharing of our experiences with Swamiji, and other activities. We also planned to connect to the Ashram’s live streaming programme.
The celebration started around 8 pm with a Guru Astotra and bhajans. We then had the first abhishekam, after which everyone received lingam blessings. This was followed by a 20-minute long meditation. After washing the vessels, we had tea and shared some of the experiences we had had with Swamiji. It was very interesting and also sometimes funny. This went on for quite a long time because, as I already mentioned, we had not seen each other in many months and were in great need of this ‘together time’.
Then it was time for the second abhishekam, after which Dhanalaksmi guided us in singing a Vedic chant to Shiva – a very beautiful experience that allowed us to express the sacred in a different way. Next was a quiz on spirituality, with questions about Swamiji and his teachings. It was a very nice way to relax and recall some highlights of Swamiji’s life. There were also some delicious prasad and spicy Indian-style chai, which was a real treat and reminded us all of our times in the Ashram.
After this we connected to the live programme on a big screen. It was very moving to see devotees from so many different countries celebrating Mahashivaratri in such beautiful spiritual unity. We watched until the end of the stream, when it was time for our last abhishekam. This time I assisted and was glad that everything went well despite the fact I had not performed an abhishekam for quite some time.
After another meditation, we ended the spiritual celebration with a final arati. Afterwards we all had more tea and an amazingly delicious chocolate and pumpkin cake especially made for Kasturirangan’s birthday. I hope with all my heart that this happy coincidence signals his speedy recovery!
I feel extremely grateful to have been able to share such precious moments with all these people, different from each other, but all united in the love of Swamiji.
Jai Prema Shanti!