|Amartithi News from the Chairman|
Jai Baba dear Family,
The most important event of the Meherabad Calendar—Beloved Baba's 46th Amartithi—is fast approaching and preparations are in full swing. Since we have such a big gathering only once a year, we do not have permanent facilities. Instead, they have to be created and dismantled every year. That is why the work is to be started around October, when all of our Residents and Trustees begin planning and making preparations for various arrangements.
I am describing the preparations in detail this year to give you an idea of how much time, energy, thought, equipment and love goes into Meherabad’s celebration of the Eternal One. And I hope you will also get a parallel picture of the scope of financial responsibility the Trust undertakes to present an event befitting the Avatar.
A small township springs up at Meherabad during Amartithi.
This year we are expecting about 18,000 pilgrims from all over India to stay in Trust facilities i.e. hostels and tents. In addition some pilgrims will stay in private houses at Meherabad and also in hotels. Another 10,000 pilgrims will visit Meherabad only for the day on the 31st.
Pilgrims who stay in our facilities arrive on 30th January and leave on 1st February. Since the covered space for accommodation of these pilgrims is limited, we have to create additional space by erecting tents. To give you an idea as to how the pilgrims are accommodated, we provide 2' X 8' i.e. 16 sq.ft. to a pilgrim, barely enough to spread a small bedding and keep a bag. At times this space has to be further cut down. The pilgrims gamely accept all the inconvenience, including occasional rains, out of their Love for the Beloved.
The covered space in the four Hostels at Meherabad and a few shelters built at the New Education Site totals about 91,000 sq.ft. Additional temporary space of about 150,000 sq.ft. is created by erecting tents. In Meher Pilgrim Retreat over 300 pilgrims (against the normal capacity of 200) are accommodated by putting additional beds in the rooms.
A big Shamiana (Pandal) of about 43,000 sq.ft. is erected in the space between Beloved Baba's Tomb and the Amphitheater, where pilgrims gather to enjoy the various programmes such as Bhajans, Songs, Dances, Skits etc. offered by His Lovers. The programmes start in the afternoon on 30th January and continue till afternoon on 1st February.
Space is given out to various people to put up stalls to sell food, flowers, Baba books, photos, lockets etc. While no money is charged for space, water or electrical power to the stall holders, the prices as well as the quality of the various articles sold is closely monitored.
The job of erecting the tents is contracted out, but the job of providing electrical lights, audio & video facilities, water and many other things is done by volunteers. Around 1200 volunteers from all over India and overseas, along with Resident Volunteers and Trust Staff, toil day and night from 28th January to 2nd February to provide various services like security, bath & drinking water, electricity, sanitation, monitoring stall holders, traffic, etc., as well as manning the Samadhi Darshan queue and then helping to dismantle some of the temporary structures after 1st February.
The most important event of the Amartithi is the Silence observed for 15 minutes from 12 O'clock Noon on the dot to 12:15 on 31st January, when our Beloved dropped His Physical Form to live forever in our hearts. It is a sight to behold the gathering of thousands sitting for 15 minutes in pin drop silence. The only sounds that are heard are the chirping of birds, whistling of the wind and an occasional cough or a child's cry or hooting of train horns.
Beloved Baba's Samadhi is open for Darshan throughout from 6 a.m. on 30th January to 8 p.m. on 1st February. Darshan Tokens are issued for Darshan on 31st January and Pilgrims take Darshan in batches of 500, to avoid standing in the darshan line for more than 2 hours.
Even though many of you will not be physically present for Amartithi at Meherabad, you can still have the pleasure of watching the same through the Internet.
I hope this letter has given you a glimpse into the massive effort—physical, mental, emotional and financial—which the Trust puts forth each year to observe and celebrate His Eternal Presence in our midst.
Wishing you all a Happy and Meherful New Year,
In His Love,