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Retreat in Lonavala, Jan 3 Thru 9, 2019

By Swami Chidananda

More than 130 participants from different parts of India, and five from USA, enjoyed the Vedanta classes at the fabulous setting of Sree Narayani Dham in Lonavala between the 3rd and the 9th of January 2019.

A place of immense beauty, the venue naturally attracted a lot of tourists also every day, which did not however disturb the spiritual retreat. The magnificent temple of Devi Narayani, the impressive arch at the entrance, the pretty fountain amidst green lawns, the go-shala (place of cows) and comfortable rooms for stay etc. were among the factors that made everybody feel it was a unique experience. The organizers had brought a special team of cooks from Mumbai, which ensured that delicious and nutritious food as preferred by our group was available all through.

Swami Chidanandaji taught “Selections from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad” and Swami Hamsanandaji took up “Sundar Kand” of Tulsi Ramayan. About 50 enthusiastic students of Hamsanandaji were among the participants, who mainly came from Mysuru.

Smt Romila Lalwani was the chief guest at the inaugural function on the 3rd. She runs an elegant “seniors’ home” called MIRA GHAR at Kamshet, not far from Lonavala. Ms Diya Bose, an 8th grader, presented a short kathak dance at the opening ceremony.

A highly gifted singer, Siddharth Belmannu, in his early 20s, enthralled all the participants with his masterly concert on the second day. He sang many pieces in Hindi, Kannada and Marathi as per Hindustani music tradition. He came from Bengaluru, and was accompanied by two other youngsters on table and harmonium.

On Sunday, the 6th, another 8th grader, Kanika Bhat, from New Delhi took all the campers to heights of joy with 90 minutes of exceptionally good Bharata Natyam. These cultural programs added to the joy of all, who were very happy with the spiritual classes in the first place.

Participants visited the neighbouring Kaivalya Dhama, a famed institution of yoga on one morning. The three wings – yoga instruction, yogic therapy and yoga research – were shown to them, guided by Mr Barnard and by Dr D D Kulkarni. There was also a short sight-seeing trip on one afternoon, during which the members of the Retreat went and saw some places of tourist attraction in and around Lonavala. On some nights during this Retreat, after dinner, there were video shows of spiritual importance.

Shri Mohan Hejamadi, Brni Vibha Chaitanya and many others in the organizing team left no stone unturned to make the Retreat an all-round success.

On the whole, everybody left Lonavala with much happiness and satisfaction following this Retreat. The large contingent from Mysuru, led by Swami Hamsanandaji, added a trip to Shirdi after the 9 days in Lonavala.

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