Every year, the disciples of Sri Chinmoy travel to various destinations over Christmas and the New Year. This year the journey started in Portugal. Abhinabha reports:
The Trip started with a manifestation bang, as a statue of Sri Chinmoy was being inaugurated on 23 December – a full day into the Trip – in the picturesque coastal town of Figueira da Foz. The Portuguese statue dedication has likely been one of the quickest ones to organize, as a single phone call to an extremely receptive city council and mayor proved to be enough to get the green light. The mayor himself was present to unveil the statue, as two teams of disciple runners of our Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team – joined by school children and runners from the police and fire departments – convened at a prime location near the ocean to kick off the ceremony. The mayor turned out to be the most humble and receptive person you’d ever want to meet. Neither costs nor efforts on the part of the city council were spared to give the statue a proper home – the city even paid for the transport and the marble foundation underneath the statue. The powerful burst of rain that descended as the ceremony began couldn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.
You would think a lightning start like that would be hard to follow through, but not so. From the very start of the Trip the functions, both mornings and evenings, were so filled with soulfulness, peace, joy and happiness, they burst at their very seams. It was actually hard to secure a spot on the program, as almost everybody was eager to contribute their unique talents to the functions. Especially on the play front there was no dearth of inspiration. Three plays a night was a common occurrence and we even had nights of six and seven plays to watch. The old Christmas Trip glory days with the master in the physical seemed to have returned in full measure. I heard several people saying they thought this was the best trip since Sri Chinmoy’s passing. Sometimes I felt like pinching myself to check if I was not really dreaming.
The stunning location of Albufeira played no small part in these lofty appraisals. Our five-star hotel – one of the only two special Luxury hotels in the worldwide Sheraton family – catered to all our needs, both inner and outer. If the food was excellent, the scenery was even better. High orange tinged cliffs towered above the gently rolling Mediterranean Sea to evoke the most unbelievable colours, especially at dawn and dusk. The hotel gardens were a lush ever-green paradise of pine and palmetto trees, framing the wonderful whitewashed architecture of the hotel itself. It proved an excellent backdrop for many physical adventures, such as the weekly one- and two-mile races, but also a genuine treasure hunt with riddles, games and other challenges (like standing on one leg with your eyes closed for three minutes). Joyful competitions were the middle name of this Christmas Trip. The treasure-hunt was followed by a New Year’s Eve games extravaganza, organised by ‘masters of mirth’ Devashishu and Sahadeva from Great Britain, which a day later was succeeded by an evening long quiz on Sri Chinmoy’s life and activities, staged by Projjwal and Aruna from Augsburg. Then a day later a fun and challenging one-mile obstacle course was held on the beach, organized by Suchitra.
As I write this, I can’t believe that this is already the last day of the Trip. Tomorrow we all pack our bags and most of us will return to their ‘normal’ lives. Yet it is a great comfort to know that that life is forever enriched by the memories, joy, happiness and sheer delight of these past two weeks in Portugal. (Source: Kettledrum)