The ads were published a month ago, and successful social media campaigns created the right buzz. About a lakh people signed up and purchased tickets for the event. Today, it was time for the show.
The organizers had reserved a farmhouse for the event. It was a big property spread over two acres of land. A cool breeze swayed the white shamiana, decorated with white flowers, while the sweet fragrance of jasmine filled the air.
Time crawled, and suddenly it was time. The gates were opened. By 5 pm, everyone had settled in, and after that, the legendary Asavari Devi started her bhajan recital. Her melodious voice created the perfect atmosphere for the event, just what the organizers wanted.
At 6:15, the main event started. Guru Devananda Swami made his grand entrance. The Guru was wearing a flowing white robe with his long hair tied in a bun over his head. The few strands of Rudraksha garlands added little color to his being.
As the Guru slowly walked, a voice boomed, ‘All rise, Jay Guru Deva!’ The crowd rose and responded in chorus, ‘Jay Guru Deva!’ The Guru raised his arms and blessed the gathering. Then, he motioned for everyone to sit. He sat on the white chair, adjusted his robe and mic, and then sat there for a minute in silence. Then he spoke. His voice was deep with a slight nasal twang. He spoke in English, ‘Dear Deva Jana, today is a very auspicious day. It is Shukla Ekadashi today. I have prayed since morning so that you all are blessed by the divine. I have done penance so that all of you, my Deva Jana, can have a prosperous life, and no obstacles should stop you on your path. I am the one who will help you to reach Him. Surrender yourself to me so I can guide you to Him. He resides inside me and has come to meet you through me. The supreme power wants to bless you, and He has chosen me as the medium to reach you. He is happy to see so many of you here today.’ He paused for a moment, looked around to assess the impact of his words, and continued, ‘When you decided to come here today,’ the Guru lifted a finger and pointed at a person in the crowd, ‘It was not you who decided, it was He who made that decision for you. He wanted to bless you, and therefore, you are here now. He is the one who blessed me to become His medium to bring His blessings to you.’ The Guru folded his hands and closed his eyes.
‘Jai Guru Deva!’ The crowd cheered.
Sitting inside a parked OB van near the entrance, Ria smirked, ‘How much nonsense can he spout!’ Rajan playfully reprimanded her, ‘Shush! This nonsense only converts into moolah. A few more shows like this, and we can retire in luxury.’
Shamiana – a ceremonial tent, shelter or awning, commonly used for outdoor parties, weddings, feasts etc.
Guru – a Hindu spiritual teacher.
Shukla Ekadashi – Ekadashi, an auspicious day in Hindu culture which is the eleventh lunar day (tithi) of each of the two lunar phases – the period of the brightening moon (Shukla Paksa) and the period of the fadingm moon (Krushna Paksa).