Friday, August 8, 2008

KuliMela Reflections: Prasadam ki jai!!

I must correct a possible misunderstanding. In my last post, I wrote that sometime after the closing ceremony, someone approached me 20 minutes before the Feast to confirm that he could serve out prasadam. Twenty minutes before. Now, this may have sounded like a one-time deal, a marvelous glitch in the aftermath of so much appreciation at the closing ceremony.

Allow me to clarify: I had people tracking me down all weekend long to let me know they wanted to serve. Sometimes they would approach me at weird, random times - maybe I just finished my japa workshop, or I was on a mission for the Registration booth. Sometimes a whole crew wanted to assure their place in the serving line - Gaura Nitai from the Polish Crew literally informed me a day early that they all wanted to serve dinner.

It was no joke. You either came early, or you lost your spot to serve. That was that. In the organized chaos of making sure everything ran smoothly in feeding 400 people, I will say that I never, ever ran short of servers.

I've heard it said in class throughout my life about some great Vaishnava who would serve everyone else prasadam - seconds, thirds - and then clean up after everyone before sitting down to take any prasadam for himself... and he actually enjoyed being last! He was actually in bliss. I kind of wrote that attitude off as a bit masochistic - delay prasadam??

But then, suddenly, I was in the shoes of that Vaishnava - if only for a couple days. I showed up early, was switched "on" for over two hours three times a day to make sure there were servers, utensils, the prasadam prayer was sung, prasadam didn't run out, tables cleaned, pots put away... then and only then did I carry my plate up to the lawn in front of the castle to listen to the bhajans from the kutir. Often my friend Rupa would join me, and as we settled to the grass and took our first bite of prasadam, we would simply look at each other and smile in bliss.

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