Divine Light Festival To Have Strict Rules
Associated Press Writer
MONTROSE, Colo. (AP) Members of the Divine Light Mission say they have made arrangements to insure that their religious festival July 25-27 will be just that - a religious festival. "We will not allow any smoking - including tobacco, there won't be any drinking, and we don't expect to have people running around doing what they interpret as their own thing," said David Humphrey of Denver, one of the advance party.
"The purpose of this festival is a single purpose - to celebrate the truth that we have obtained through the Guru Maharaj Ji," Humphrey said. The guru visited the festival site earlier this week.
To make sure that the festival's purpose is observed, the group has set up its own security force, the World Peace Corps. Equipped with two-way radios, the corps plans to control the hillside above the broad draw where the festival will be held.
The Divine Light Mission reached a lease agreement Monday with Louis T. Twombly, the owner of the 320 acre tract about six miles south of here. The price was not made public.
The followers of the guru also made a final agreement with the Tri-County Water Conservancy District to get water to the site for the crowd, expected to reach anywhere from 8,000 to 25,000.
About 5,000 of the guru's devotees are expected, with the remainder of persons seeking religious truth or curiosity seekers, Humphrey said.
The group reported it had large tents ready to be set up for sleeping. Also sealed kitchens and a field hospital will be set up.
A system for ticketing and parking automobiles has also been set up. Any car entering the access road to the festival grounds will be required to remain at the site for at least one day.
This procedure, Humphrey said, is designed to discourage curiosity seekers and to cut down on traffic problems for local authorities.
A department of public safety las been created temporarily by the City of Montrose and Montrose County to deal with the gathering.
Vincent Jones, a law enforcement consultant for Mesa Colege in Grand Junction, has been named temporary public safety coordinator.
Jones said he believes residents of Montrose have calmed sufficiently down after initial fears that the festival here would resemble one held earlier this month by another group at Strawberry com Lake in Grand County.
Residents who met members of the advance party commented that they were polite, clean-cut young people who appear to be sincere about their religious beliefs.
The advance party held an open house for citizens Monday night at the newly established Montrose Divine Light Mission in a rented dwelling house.
The 14-year-old guru, who visited the site last Thursday, now at an Ashram - or head-quarters - in Denver, awaiting the start of the festival.
The Divine Light Misnion claims some 4 million devotees around the world and Ashrams in about 60 cities in the United States.
Followers believe Guru Marahaj Ji has been given the power to impart divine light to others - hence the name of the group.
Members said a festival is held yearly, but this will be the first ever held in the Western Hemisphere.