The oldest and most storm-tossed of the Western DLM communities began in London in 1969 with the arrival of Gurucharnanand. In 1970 about eighty premies from this young community traveled to see Guru Maharaj Ji in Prem Nagar, India. Now, an estimated eight thousand people have been initiated, and judging from the attendance at Maharaj Ji's Leicester program, about four thousand three hundred of them are active. Over the last six years the United Kingdom community has plowed its way through a sea of ups and downs until, as the national director David Lovejoy described it, it started maintaining a fragile but strengthening "up" over the last year. David likened it to knitting a broken bone together, saying that "it's in the process of being knit."
Even Butlin's, the holiday camp specialists, and the British Tourist Board couldn't find a suitable hall for Guru Maharaj Ji's June program, dubbed the "Summer Festival." However, "somehow someone" discovered the Granby Hall in the city of Leicester. The DLM community in Leicester is an interesting cultural balance between the English premies and the predominant population of Indian premies. While the native English went about cleaning the hall in a matter-of-fact way, joyful bhajans echoed from the kitchen where the Indian community was hard at play.
Bulent Acar, the Summer Festival co-ordinator, found Granby Hall to have been the site of innumerable wrestling matches and circuses. Three weeks before Maharaj Ji's program, Bulent and friends checked out the hall at a Rolling Stones concert. After three hours with four thousand rock and roll fans, the festival team was ready to run out or expire from the heat. Because of this experience, they decided to remove half the chairs in the hall and lay down carpet in their place, so that at least some pairs of legs could be flexed.
Then the mammoth job of cleaning Granby Hall began. Extra mess
"You will be making yourself open, not to your concepts, but to Knowledge, opening yourself up to that love, opening yourself to each other, because we are all here and we are all brothers and sisters."
Guru Maharaj Ji, Leicester, England 13 June 1976
had accumulated from the Stones concert, the paintwork was a patchy chocolate brown, and part of the building had been used as circus stables. The local janitor was surprised that someone should attempt Granby's first clean-up in fifteen years. Over fifty premies got to work, weeding the outside gardens, scrubbing down walls and removing "pounds of dirt" from the skylight. One of the smaller halls was fitted out as a dining room, and others were prepared for the nursery.
On the experience of all the premies gathering together for the festival, David Lovejoy felt personally that "we shouldn't overestimate the significance of four thousand premies feeling high together, but the important thing is if people really understand who they are, what they're connected to, and how they can get more connected to it." Glenn Whittaker, the festival program director, saw "a great sense of magic in all the premies gathering together, the feeling of being a family. I felt a tremendous sense of community spirit and togetherness."
In response to Guru Maharaj Ji's satsang at the program, Harry Watson, the community director of Leicester, said, "Maharaj Ji emphasized that it is up to each and every individual to understand and realize Knowledge before creating a group consciousness. That definitely seems to be happening now. Maharaj Ji has, in fact, woken us up out of a stupor that was beginning to settle in."
Gordon Anderson of the city of Newcastle saw the effect of the Summer Festival illustrated in the contrasting coach rides to and from Leicester. On the way to the program, everyone was quiet and reflective, while coming back, song followed song "all the way to Stockton," where their only guitarist disembarked. Gordon experienced darshan as a really quiet event. "I felt I didn't need a strong experience from darshan, I wasn't expecting anything. I just wanted to see Maharaj Ji and say thanks."
Pita Arnott, also of Newcastle, joined some of her long-unseen friends in a nearby park to escape the heat of the program until Maharaj Ji arrived. She underlined an observation that many premies had made: The Summer Festival was quite different from the Bloomsbury Hotel satsang, a year ago. At Bloomsbury, Maharaj Ji delivered a firm message exhorting all the premies to come together. Now Leicester was a celebration of that growing togetherness.
"The whole motive behind this tour was to bring premies together and to provide them with a new understanding of how everything has come together, of how everything is starting to flow, how everything that we used to dream about is in fact happening."
Guru Maharaj Ji, Leicester, England 13 June 1976