KABIR BHAKTA MILAN
2016 Kabir Bhakta Milan and Kabir Jayanti Celebrations at Shree RamKabir Mandir, Carson, U.S.A 
Bhaktajans of Southern California came in numbers to celebrate Kabir Jayanti. We, the Bhakta, are far and distant from our Motherland-India. The Ram Kabir mantra is our identity which bonds us together. It was quite evident during the celebration. This time Kabir Jayanti was celebrated over a period of four days. Importantly, all the preparations were done by our young and old Bhaktajans with the understanding of Karma-Bhakti. The emphasis was on getting a better understanding of who we are as Kabirpanthis, our Bhakta Samaj, and the path of our future.  
Several informative sessions were prepared covering the subject of Bhakta History, Kabir & I, Scriptures, Diet and Health, Traditional Bhakta Bhajans, Festivals, Bhakta Traditions (marriage), and Cultural Sensitivity. Along with this, there was a workshop on Traditional Bhajans, and our youth had their own workshops, including bhajans, cooking, and wedding. Our vibrant youth made a special offering to Satt Guru by singing bhajans in Malwa style as sung by Padmashri Prahladsingh Tipanyaji (who visited Ram Kabir Mandir in the past) and reciting and translating dohas. Also, to guarantee the full enjoyment and offering to Guruji, we were treated with a short and very powerful skit "Guarantee" of searching and meeting the Satt Guru after numerous contemplations!! As often Kabirji says "suno bhai sadho...", indeed the sessions provided information for us to "listen to" and contemplate on: 
 
कहाँ से आया कहाँ जाओगे, खबर करो अपने तन की (Kaha se aya kaha javoge, khabar karo apne tann ki) 
कोई सदगुरु मिले तो भेद बतावें, खुल जावे अंतर खिड़की (Koi Sadguru mile tto bhed batave, khul jave antar khidki) 
 
 Our History Session reflected on our roots and lineage of our Gurus (Mahants). It explored on what prompted the Bhaktajans' migration to foreign countries, our accomplishments in education, and success in business. Though the discussion focused on migration to America, it raised a question for all: What contributed to this success and the life that we are enjoying? It hinted on our culture and the teachings of Satt Guru Kabir. Then the session ended by leaving us questioning ourselves : What path will we take as we continue the journey? How will we choose that Path? Will it be as we have lived and experienced or should we change? These ideas and questions were further deliberated by the audience and the panelists presenting different perspectives.  

The Kabir and I Session explored what is my relationship with Kabirji? It touched briefly on Kabirji's biography and propagation of His teachings. It stressed how freely "Ram Kabir" is used in everyday life. For example, we use "Ram Kabir" for greetings, goodbyes, before we eat, after we eat, resolving our difference, etc., but we seldom do introspection of this fantastic gesture. It also stressed our journey in understanding and finding Kabir. Then a conversation with Dr. Purnendu Ranjan (Assistant Professor in History from Chandigarh, India, who visited Ram Kabir Mandir when he was invited to speak on Kabir at the University of California, Berkeley) was recalled as he eloquently said "why and where are you looking for Kabir? You are the living Kabir!" The session left us bit perplexed: Am I Kabir? Do I do as Kabirji has said?  

The Scriptures Session started with presenting the Vedic scriptures, in particular, their significance and teachings. It shed light on the essence of life: way of living, way thinking, and way of devotion. It briefly mentioned the Vedas, Upanishads, Puran, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagwat Gita. In which scriptures do we find Kabirji's teachings? The Bijak (Ramaini, Shabad), The Bhrama Nirupan of Kabir, Bhakta Bhajan Sanghrah and Naadbhram, Kabir Bhajan Sudha, and various other books published by our Bhakta Samaj.  
Our Bhakta youth presented the Diet and Health Session. It started with quoting Kabirji's dohas on simple diet. This session addressed the importance of the types of food we should consume and its effect on our health. The health issues were further elaborated by talking about diabetes and hypertension. It emphasized eating a balanced meal in moderation and exercise. The youth offered to talk with individuals one on one (in Gujarati) to improve their health and take preventative measures for better health.  

The Festival Session talked about the reasons and significance of various festivals that Bhaktajans celebrate at the Mandir. In the discussion, the crude translation of "Utsav" is "Festivals" but a sharp contrast was drawn to indicate that "Utsav" has the "gratitude" or "krutagniya" as a plus attribute along with the celebrative component of festivals. Again, emphasizing our great culture and "built-in" intricacies to live and enjoy life to the fullest.  

The Bhakta Traditions Session exemplified our unique way of Marriage. It started with the explanation of chaturvarna or four ashrams and how the sixteen sanskars are bestowed upon us as the individual develops and goes through various phases of life. As one of the sanskars,"vivah" marks the beginning of "gruhastha ashram." It touched on how Bhakta samaj has simplified the marriage ceromony, yet capturing the deep and unique meaning of this most pivotal moment in our lives. The singing of the "mangal dhods" for each of the ceremony, and how family comes together and their role was breath taking and very emotional. You had to be there to feel the power of our Bhakta Traditions. Our Mahila Mandal did an excellent job reciting the traditional wedding geets.  

The Bhajan Workshop provided a unique insight into our traditional bhajans as to how they are sung with certain rhythm. The bhajan mandal demonstrated certain "chals, tals and ragas". The treasure of bhajans was unveiled, but due to lack of time, only two lines of selected bhajans were beautifully rendered. Along with its glorious history, our bhajan collections and how it has provided a common thread for all Bhaktajans was emphasized. Special "darshan" and presentation of various handwritten bhajan collection, a personal hand written book of the late Shree Mathurbhai Rambhai Gokalbhai Bhakta of Kapura and late Shree Bhulabhai Haribhai Bhakta of Sarai were on display. Certainly, the gems of Bhakta Samaj and a true invaluable asset. 

Our youth further enlightened us with a special Cultural Sensitivity Session. It reinforced Kabirji's teachings of "All inclusiveness". No matter what differences or diversities we have, we are all Bhaktajans in the end!! 

The two days leading to the Kabir Jayanti were started by Nitya Aarti, singing Prabhatiya and performing Yoga (Pranayam) early in the morning by our Mahila Mandal. It just set the right atmosphere for the day before the sessions and workshops commenced. It reminded us of the true, simple, humble village life of our forefathers, and their praise and appreciation of the Gods and Goddesses. To further complement this spirit, Simple Meals were prepared by our Mahila Mandal and self served. The celebration continued with the Mahila Mandal bhajans in the afternoon and Mahaprasad in the evening. Our auspicious Milan concluded with traditional bhajans by the Mandir Bhajan Mandal!  

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