Re: Happy Birthday Lily-di
- Arpan, what a superbly written account! Your writing is a perfect combination of heart and mind! So eloquent!
About the recipes - I remember a long time ago being in N.Y. and some kind person gave me a copy of an original recipe from Lily of her dhal, it was just called 'Lily's Dhal'. When I got back to the UK I set to making it...it was just the best dhal ever!! Then I moved house, and lost the recipe. I would really like to have that recipe again! Good dhal is so difficult to cook, but Lily's recipe was great, and easy to make too.
- Dear Arpan,
I am sure I am not alone in saying how grateful I am for your detailed accounts of events at Aspiration Ground. For all of us far away and only able to visit once or twice a year, your descriptions help so much to keep us connected.
- In New York we have been celebrating Guru's sister Lily's birthday, Oct. 27, for many years. (Lily is the western name given to Rani, one of Guru's three sisters. Guru had us call her Lily or Lily-di, which has a suffix added to her name out of respect to an elder. For men the suffix `-da' is used.)
It could not have been a more perfect evening for this year's celebration as it fell on a Wednesday which always brings most of the local disciples together at Aspiration-Ground. It had been raining off and on all day long but it fortunately stopped completely a few hours before the evening function. The weather was also quite warm today as it has been for a few days now. It was 72F or 22C today and 68F or 20C for the function tonight. This is amazing weather for late October and it was a pleasant way to celebrate this auspicious day.
Lily-di was Guru's very close sister who was very supportive and understanding of everything Guru did. She was the only sibling, out of six, of Guru's who came to America to visit Guru. That was in 1978 from February to September I seem to recall. Guru was so happy when she was here and he gave her the royal treatment. She also cooked for Guru every day and spent a good amount of time with the disciples as well. Guru also used to create special trips for us all to accompany Lily-di so she could experience places out of New York City.
Celebrating her birthday to us, especially those of us who had the good fortune to be around to meet her and mix with her in 1978, is a very soulful, sweet and elevating experience.
To give a brief description of tonight's birthday function, I will start with the atmosphere of a spiritual festival. There were lots of candles and flowers all around Aspiration-Ground just as with all the most special spiritual observances. Before entering the main gate there was the usual `Chittagong Chai Hut' with hot teas, Chai, snacks, etc.
During the function we enjoyed a few music group performances and the Bhajan singers except during the beginning silent meditation of course. During the singing there was a candle and flower offering walk-past meditation and videos of past Lily-di Celebrations being shown on the giant screen.The Bhajan singers sang songs dedicated to Lily, written by Guru.
After about six songs we all sang the main spiritual birthday song and the traditional western one as well. There was even a small birthday cake with `Happy Birthday Lily-di' written on it. It was placed by a cut-out of Lily and Guru next to the special Alu-Pie Prasad which is what would like to give out on very special occasions.
There was lots of other Prasad as well offered by different groups of people. Also a special meal was offered, cooked by some of the more experienced local cooks. It was all quite delicious and I think Lily-di would have been happy with the food and proud of the cooks.
It really was a pleasant, peaceful, joyful and meaningful Celebration which really seemed to invoke the love and sweetness of Guru's favorite sister. She was like a mother to us when she was here such a long time ago and one could still feel that concern and oneness she had with Guru and his mission here in the West.
Even though the function went on longer than most Wednesday evening functions do, some of us could hardly leave Aspiration-Ground as the whole place was filled with the powerful presence and peace that Lily-di embodied and shared with us all as she supported her younger brother and our dear Guru.
- Thanks for evoking the atmosphere of the recent function and the visit of Lily-di back in the 1970s. It sounds something very special.
p.s. Arpan, I'm also trying to visualise you in a sari, but having great difficulty!
- Thank you Arpan for this inspiring post. I enjoy hearing the Annam Brahma girls talk about their experiences with Lily in the kitchen, and of course we all love her famous recipe dhal!