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International Sahaja Festival in Russia
Monday, August 18, 2008
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It is difficult to say when this Festival began. The official dates of
it (July 31 – August 1) do not reflect the enthusiasm and unity with
which the whole Russian Collective had been preparing for this event
for several months. Already in May, volunteers started working near
the settlement Lunacharsky (not far from the City of Togliatti)
constructing a Sahaja camp and the House for Shri Mataji. The hope
that Mother would come to Russia gave strength and enthusiasm –
brothers and sisters worked for all day long having a rest only when
sleeping and meditating. They offered Pujas on the bank of the Volga
and sent sms to their dearest and nearest ones: “These days, when
there are lots of Yogis here, there appears the atmosphere of the
Festival though one worships Mother through work…” Thus, it is really
difficult to say when this Festival began!
The volunteers called the venue “the Glade”. First it seems a bit
strange: why “the Glade” if less than three months ago there was a
forest on the territory where there are more than 16 spacious hangars,
a canteen and a kitchen, showers cubicles and toilets now? But when
you find yourself on the bank where during the last July days a stage
looking like a fairy-tale music box managed to grow the answer comes
by itself. It is truly the Glade – on the high Volga bank from where
the river seems to be a real sea without any coasts and where more
than six thousand people can make themselves comfortable.
The Yogis from Russia, Ukraine and many other countries gathered
together in this place on the first weekend of August to worship their
Divine Mother Shri Adi Shakti. She was not with us in Her Sakar form
but Her Feet were in the Sahasrara of everybody.
Shri Adi Shakti Puja started at about 10:30 in the evening on August 1
and after the welcoming Aarti the whole huge Sahaja collective (there
had not been a larger collective gathering in Europe for the whole
period of Sahaja Yoga existence!) was listening with attention to Shri
Mataji’s talk which She gave at the recent Guru Puja in Cabella,
A majestic picture: a deep dark sky, bright stars, the sound of the
sea-Volga at the bank, six and a half thousand Yogis and the voice of
our beloved Mother reigning above all these and not destroying but
only strengthening inner peace and harmony… Some Yogi took a picture
of the Yogis during the Puja: hundreds of Kundalinis shining with
different colors and flying up into the sky only confirmed the inner
feeling that Shri Adi Shakti did great work through Her channels on
“WE PROMISE THAT WE WILL BE LIKE THE FLAMES OF THE FIRE IN SAHAJA YOGA”
Sahaja Weddings – an event which added beauty to the Festival and
filled it with vibrations even more. 77 brothers and more than 500
sisters from Russia, Ukraine and other countries submitted their
Application Forms this year. Shri Mataji blessed 77 couples and right
after the official opening of the Festival and a beautiful children’s
performance, which had been prepared by the kids living in the summer
Sahaja camp during the previous month, anxious bridegrooms and brides
took their places near the stage. The announcement of the couples
began and the ones who heard their names had to come up onto the stage and, together with their “half”, shower rose petals on Mother’s Feet
as the expression of gratitude. The whole Sahaja family were watching
their brothers and sisters with anxiety – the marriages blessed by
Shri Adi Shakti Herself became the cause of celebrations not only for
two people but for cities and even countries.
Then in any place of the camp one could hear such dialogs:
- Where are you from?
- From Tomsk.
- And we are from Bratsk.
- Was it your sister who was married to our brother? – and then there followed a conversation of the two as if having-become-related-one-with-the-other families…
Afterwards, the announced couples had 24 hours to decide whether they
accept the will of Adi Shakti and whether they are ready to enjoy Her
choice for the rest of their life. The ones who had made the decision
came to submit their applications in the “Hangar of Beauty” that
became a real Sahaja Registry Office for some time.
The next day, the arms of the brides and bridegrooms were painted with
henna near that Hangar – an ancient tradition mehendi (or mendi)
allows to display creativity and henna also cleans and cools you. As
not only the newly-joined but also the ones who are already married
officially were going to take part in the Sahaja Ceremony
(re-marriage), there were so many brides and bridegrooms that the
mehendi artists were working from morning till… the next morning
making a break only for the Puja. But the result was that all the 96
couples were ready! Besides mehendi each couple had to find
“relatives”: the presence of the “mother”, “father”, “bride’s sister”
and “bridegroom’s brother” is need for the ritual. The whole day on
August 2 was devoted to the marriages. In the morning, after a grand
shoebeating, all who wished went to the brothers’ and sisters’ beaches
to start Haldi during which the future conjoints – actually, all the
rest as well! – rubbed themselves with a mixture of turmeric and oil.
To make the process even more joyful a bhajan-group settled right on
the steps-road which led down to the Volga and soon the brides and
their mothers and sisters who had become completely yellow started
singing and dancing in a ring on the sand and then in the water. On
the brothers’ part of the beach there was even more excitement! After
such a splash of emotions, a bathhouse in the Russian style was
waiting for the completely yellow spouses and their “relatives” (and
showers – for the rest). Turmeric, as it turned out, can be easily
taken away by ordinary gel-soap and a bath sponge but at the same time
it cleans the skin and makes it sleek and tender – it is better than
any scrub, not speaking about the feeling – as if you are born again!
A leisurely breakfast, a couple-of-hours break and gaining of the
meditative mood and here are the brides and the bridegrooms who have
gathered in special hangars to put on their wedding clothes.
Afterwards, Ganesha Puja and Gauru Puja were to start at the same
time. But indeed, the putting on of a forage cap, a wedding crown and
a kurta, even a festive one, cannot be compared to the woman’s wedding
attire concerning its complexity. Thus, the bridegrooms having sung,
as it seemed, all the known bhajans devoted to Shri Ganesha had
finished the Puja in their Hangar when their brides had not even left
the “Hangar of Beauty”. Then it turned out that the preparation of the
sisters took four hours – but how unnoticeably did they flow! A
make-up and a hair-do, bracelets for the hands and legs, earrings,
decorations for the neck and head, a sari, a cloak – everything has a
deep sense. At first, one sister did not want to put a not very
comfortable earring in her nose – a traditional symbol of Gruha-Laxmi.
But when the meaning of it had been explained to her and she had been
persuaded to put it on, she really felt that the vibrations had grown
– on the left Nabhi!
After Gauri Puja on the main stage which could be seen by the whole
collective enjoying the most tender vibrations the brides lined up in
front of the white sari which had to cover their faces from the
bridegrooms’ glances until time came (the future conjoints were not to
see each other during the whole day).
Finally, to the accompaniment of the drums, the bridegrooms took their
places behind the white sari. The serial numbers which had been given
to the couples before helped everybody find the right place where to
stand. And that moment – the line of the brides and their golden and
scarlet cloaks hovering along with the wind and shining under the sun,
the line of the bridegrooms and their white festive kurtas,
everybody’s anxiety – was truly solemn.
The relatives of the bride took their places behind her. The singing
of Mangalashtakam, the hymns of fairness, started. At that time the
brides and the bridegrooms made seven steps towards the sari, ie. to
each other, and the relatives shower the bride with vibrated rice and
flowers. The seventh shloka – and the sari goes down, the future
conjoints, now standing close to each other, meet the eyes of each
other and put flower garlands around the neck of each other…
It is time to go to the wedding fire – 96 hearths are already ready
for the ritual. When all the brides, bridegrooms and relatives had
taken their places, the conjoints gave a promise to follow Sahaja Yoga
dharma, i.e. Vishwa Nirmala Dharma, and not to accept any other
After that goes kaniyadan – the daughter is married to the chosen one
and the conjoints tie the root of turmeric around each other’s wrists
and shower rice onto the Sahasraras. The bride’s mother ties the ends
of the cloaks of the bride and the bridegroom for them to realize that
their relations have been secured through Sahaja Yoga and only through
Sahaja Yoga they will become pure and strong.
And then a havan starts at each hearth with five offerings to the fire
and beautiful promises – tears of tenderness appeared on the faces of
the most emotional sisters.
“We promise that we will be like the flames of the fire in Sahaja Yoga
and will set light in others”.
And finally – seven rings around the fire: first the bridegroom leads
the bride and then the bride leads the bridegroom and both make
A wonderful collective meditation. And then – the celebration. Having
got sets for home Pujas as presents the couples dance kawwalis at the
stage – as the expression of gratitude to Mother. Gradually all join
them – even the musicians on the stage cannot just sit!
THE MIRACLES CONTINUE
The miracles at the Festival began at the very beginning and then
continued – for each one Mother played his/her own lila and some
things were revealed to the whole collective… The rainbows which
appeared in the sky from day to day (without a visible rain) and a
tender interwoven ornament made from clouds. The water of the Volga
which suddenly became overgrown in no time and thus became completely green but the next morning it again was clean and transparent to be filled with the yellow joyful color of Haldi. And the deepest state…
According to the words of Dmitry Korotaev, Mother has a desire to come
to Russia after Ganesha Puja in September. And three days for such a
big country like Russia will not be enough for Her – She would like to
stay for three weeks. That is why the work on the Glade has not been
stopped, volunteers are still working there. So, see you in September!
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