Guru Puja will be celebrated for the second time in the United States on July 5, 6, and 7 in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The cozy University of Massachusetts, nestled in the Berkshire Mountains, is the site of this year's festival.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
According to Lou Schwartz, coordinator of Guru Puja '74, Guru Maharaj Ji asked that Guru Puja be a "family affair" designed specifically for premies. "We thought about printing posters and leaflets and doing other publicity work to invite the public," Lou said, but Guru Maharaj Ji doesn'twant that. He wants this gathering of his premies to be as intimate as possible." Of course, nonpremies are welcome and Knowledge will be given, but this will not be emphasized as it has been in past festivals.
Maharaj Ji wants to be with the premies as much as possible. When he asked Lou what arrangements were being made for his residence in Amherst, Lou described some of the homes they had under consideration. But Maharaj Ji said, "I think we should get a mobile home so I can drive around and see what's going on."
The festivities will begin each morning at eleven and there will be continuous music, entertainment and satsang, both indoors and outdoors. A 1,000 seat auditorium is reserved for daily performances by the Divine Light Dance Ensemble, Soul Rush Theatre Group, and others. "Krishna Lila" will be presented once again as well as a new play called "Buddha." An outdoor stage will be constructed near a large pond on the campus to provide a place for music, satsang and other productions.
A wide selection of music will fill the air, including rock, jazz, folk, and soul. "The Apostles" from Atlanta, "The Good Name Band" of Denver, "The Rainbow Riders" of New York, "The Supernatural Family Band" from New Mexico and several other excellent groups will play.
Two new films will premiere at Guru Puja. One, The Perfect Logic, is a straightforward presentation of the satsang Guru Maharaj Ji gave in Los Angeles to kick off his nationwide ashram tour. The other film is the Soul Rush documentary produced in Canada.
In the spirit of the celebration of Guru Puja '74, Guru Maharaj Ji asked for a grand bazaar. Each ashram, Divine Light Center, Divine Information Center and individual premies living together wanting to propagate are being asked to come to Amherst prepared to participate in a "truly divine flea market." Premies who attended Guru Puja in Montrose, Colorado two years ago will remember the bazaar there. This one promises even more with everything from beautiful new photos of Maharaj Ji to tarot card readings, handicrafts to games of chance.
A quarter of the bazaar's proceeds will go towards the internationalization of Divine Light Mission operations. The remaining three quarters will go back to the particular community operating the booth for use in its own activities.
Guru Puja will also be a time for premies to learn how to involve themselves directly in propagating Knowledge. Workshops are scheduled to allow artists, musicians, businessmen, students and others to share ideas and lay the foundation for national communication and coordination.
People will counsel premies on various ways to initiate propagation programs in their cities. Others will give advice about starting business ventures, forming devotional bands, and organizing medical care facilities.
An arts and graphics exhibit will provide a place for premie artists from all over the country to display their work and hopefully stimulate future art exhibitions for the general public.
Maharaj Ji's evening satsang will be the heart of the festival. Each evening there will be music and one or two keynote speakers before Ma ha raj Ji arrives to give satsang and darshan.
The University's dormitories will provide comfortable housing for all. As Lou said, "We are going to have showers and beds just like the real folks." Everyone will have a bed but each person is responsible for providing his own linen or bringing a sleeping bag. A special area will be designated for married couples and for families with children.
There are campgrounds in the nearby mountains but because this will be the Fourth of July weekend finding space will be difficult. No camping will be permitted on the campus. Maharaj Ji prefers that the premies stay in the dorms so they can be concentrated and get more out of the festival.
Two vegetarian meals a brunch and dinner will be served each day in the dining commons. Brunch will be served between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The brunch will consist of granola, cream of wheat, coffee cake, yogurt, fruit, and juices. Dinners will be hot and tantalizing. Entrees include spaghetti, broccoli and cauliflower casserole, and chick pea loaf served with green beans, corn on the cob, and salads. Ice cream, cookies, and blueberry cake are offered as deserts on different nights, and there will be ample beverages. Dinner will be served on the 5th, 6th, and 7th, and brunches on the 5th through the 8th.
Premies are asked to pay a $5 registration fee to help pay for the rental of the University's facilities. For $13 one gets his registration ticket plus meals. A complete package for $25 includes all this and rooms for the three days.
Urgent! All premies planning to attend should send in their money and registration form immediately. Most of the cost of the festival must be paid in advance and mission accounts are being strained to come up with the money. To avoid paying a $2 late registration fee, all premies should send in their money by June 20.
Check-in time for the festival begins at 7 a.m. on the 5th and continues throughout that morning and afternoon. Dorm space is not available the night before so participants should time their arrivals for the morning of the 5th. For those who have pre-registered the check-in procedure will be greatly simplified. The campus must be vacated by the afternoon of the 8th.
Lou thinks that premies will be surprised at how valuable an experience it will be for them to see Maharaj Ji again. "The significance of this festival as a family gathering to try to collectively see our position in the world makes it imperative to see Guru Maharaj Ji and feel his darshan."
Maharaj Ji also told the Denver premies recently, "I want you to get the word around about how important Guru Puja is, how fantastic it is, really."
Lest premies fall into the pre-festival syndrome of prediction making. Lou emphasized that, "For a devotee every day is puja, his whole life is worship. Above all else the Guru Puja festival is a place where devotees come to directly honor Guru Maharaj Ji. It is the devotion of the premies and the Grace of Guru Maharaj Ji that makes these days worthy of such importance, not any external thing."