((Editing on 1 Feb 14 – this was originally posted to Meher Chowk from Meherabad -vshr))
((Although the California (GMT-10) post date is Christmas, 25 Dec., it was the 26th Samadhi time when I wrote and posted this and the last post. -vshr))
The Christmas celebration at Meherabad and Meherazad this year was a complete change of field from previous years. I’ve never seen such a radical change in a cultural event from one year to the next, anywhere, and it was wonderful. Kudos to Ward Parks and the cultural leadership in general. We sang more Christmas carols this year than I have probably sung in my entire previous life. I kicked off the festivities with Silent Night, sung at the end of the Aarti songs on the evening of 23 Dec., against the usual Hindu opposition. The next morning, that would be Xmas Eve morning, please, Ward Parks came to Aarti with his keyboard, and five or six Xmas carols wound up being sung. Later that morning, the group of carolers that Ward had previously started to collect, and of which I was one, practiced in the MPR music room. Ward was on top of the Xmas carol lyrics scene. Probably fifty copies of the whole traditional repertoire had beep printed out and were freely available and ready to distribute. That same afternoon, Xmas Eve, there was a program at Hostel D in which our little (but highly select) choir was included. Ward had written some new music for the occasion, and a signally good time was had by all. Every caroling session perpetrated by Ward started with Joy to the World, and I guarantee you, we meant it. I was full of joy, having finally escaped from a lifelong blocked voice with the help of none other than Bhau Kalchuri, may his Jai live forever.
The Xmas Eve Aarti singing was a dedicated Xmas carol session. On that occasion, nothing was sung before Meher Baba’s Aarti but Xmas carols, for an hour, and a good three hundred Indians joined in. They were able to do that because many of them had the lyrics, and we were loud enough so that they could hear us. Indians, like Asians in general, can sing anything they can hear. They don’t need to read music; once they hear it they can sing it. ((Very briefly, IMO what prevents Indians from hearing and joining in the English-language lyrics at Meherabad is the dysfunctional tradition of guitar-whispering by westerners. Guitars are truly a mixed blessing at Meherabad. They often result in whispering and or painfully suppressed voicing by individuals who are spending all their attention listening to thier guitar, with the result that they never project their voice properly. More often than not, the guitar is just a crutch. The song would be better without it, and superior devotional singers don’t play instruments because the feeling is actually in the voice, and just dealing with the modulation of your voice is a full-time job, if you’re actually doing that to the extent that real devotional music requires it. I think all of this is obvious to the Indians, most of whose voices are unobstructed from birth and for whom all this inaudible singing is just WIERD.))
Christmas carol singing on Christmas Eve on 24 Dec 2013 before Meher Baba’s Samadhi was the first time in my life that I was able to sing at the top of my voice at the top of my lungs without fear of offending some pissy soloist. I can easily drive 300 Indians and 50 westerners with my voice, and I can do it without amplification. I proved that by my being not included on Xmas Day morning, which showed very clearly what that group does without me. God has given me that power. It’s scary to think what I could do if I were actually trained to sing.
I wasn’t really flaking out on the carol project by standing in the Darshan line instead of being with the chorus on Xmas morning aarti, I just felt like giving my voice a rest, and that there probably were some Indians who also wanted a chance to sing. Later that day, the carol group also performed at Meherazad, and that was a lot of fun, and we really belted them out on that occasion as well. But Xmas Eve was the peak experience for me. I was deeply satisfied to be able to sing my heart and my guts out for Meher Baba on the anniversary of his having been born as Jesus Christ, and that nobody was there to say nay.
That’s the news from Meherabad, where everybody tries hard constantly, and sometimes we actually succeed in having fun.
Oh, and hey, CHRIST IS BORN, get with the program, OK, heretics?
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai,