The Spring Retreat
The Ananda Marga Spring Retreat and Ánanda Púrn´ima Celebration took place from May 13 to 16, 2022, with the attendance of about fifty Margiis, Acaryas, and children. The retreat accommodation, meals, and some of the programs were at the June Norcross Webster Scout Reserve at Ashford, Connecticut, and some at Ananda Kalpataru Master Unit, about 30 minutes drive away.
Parallel to the in-person program in Connecticut, there was also a full-day online retreat schedule with some of the classes both online and in-person and sometimes separate programs online and in-person. The retreat’s theme was “A Nucleus for Inspiration and Spiritual Growth – Master Unit Development,” which was reflected in four classes related to Master Units and farming and the in-person programs at Ananda Kalpataru.
After the Pandemic, the Spring Retreat was the first major in-person event in New York Sector. It was a new beginning and hope, on the occasion of Ananda Purnima, a positive start and blessing, a shower of grace on the Sector. All Margii brothers and sisters of the Boston and Philadelphia Regions and the retreat committee planned a beautiful program. With their sincere efforts, a successful program was conducted. The program’s design was practical and psychological as per the country’s situation. We rented the June Norcross Webster Scout Reserve. The campsite had accommodation, dining, and a retreat area near a large lake.
Many Margiis came to the Ananda Kalpataru Master Unit on Saturday and Sunday, brothers, sisters, and children. All the children were so engaged in playing and felt free. They played together and enjoyed themselves together. Didi Ananda Acira was the program in-charge. She arranged a flower planting program at the Master Unit. During the day, the Margiis were served ice cream, juice, and other refreshments. They enjoyed the festivities on Baba’s Birthday.
Tha Ananda Kalpataru MU has recently developed an apiary. The local bee farmer, brother Scott that has helped set up and take care of the bee hives, came and gave a class at Ananda Kalpataru about bee farming. Among other things, he explained how the weather influences the taste and texture of the honey. The Margiis enjoyed the workshop and asked many questions. On Saturday and Sunday, the evening Dharma Cakras were at Ananda Kalpataru.
Ananda Kalpataru Apiary (bee farm) started with eight bee hives recently. A huge celebration was conducted on April 30, fundraising and inauguration of the bee hives. The project is a future income source, and we launched the first batch of honey bottles with our label, “Ananda Kalpataru Honey – local raw, pure honey.” More than forty people were present in this successful program.
The Spring Retreat was a hybrid program with a full-day online and in-person retreat schedule. As the JNW Scout Reserve and Ananda Kalpataru didn’t have wifi, some of the in-person retreat events were streamed through mobile phones, and some of the programs were in-person only. We also had a dedicated online tech team and an online schedule. Margiis from all over the US contributed to the separate online programs such as the online RAWA program, Akhanda Kiirtana, yoga classes, and classes. Avtk. Ananda Hitaprabha Ac. took responsibility for being in charge of the online programs, coordinated the technical aspects, and arranged speakers. Brother Sandeep Khanuja organized the online RAWA program.
We had three excellent online classes during the Spring Retreat. Sister Nandana (Nanci Pascoe) gave a lesson about composting and soil restoration. She explained in detail how to do hot composting or accelerated composting – a particular way of composting where the compost pile’s temperature rises to around 130 – 150 Fahrenheit, effectively killing off weed seeds and plant diseases and creating a high-quality soil. The Margiis appreciated her talk and asked many questions as some of them are already doing composting at their homes.
Brother Jiivanmukta gave the class “MU Development through Agroforestry, Sustainability, and Disaster Preparedness,” and brother Dinakar gave a class on “Natural Farming Foundations and Food Production.” Dada Dayashiilananda explained how to start and take care of fruit orchards. Amongst other topics, he went into the details of the hardiness zones that suggest what fruit trees might work out best in each climate. Didi Ananda Rainjana gave a workshop on “Initial Stages and Developing Stages of a Master Unit.”
Ánanda Púrn’ima Celebrations
Three-hour Akhanda Kiirtana was conducted at the campsite in the early morning (3:07 – 6:07 a.m.), at Ananda Kalpataru in the morning (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), and New York Sectorial Office in the evening (7 – 10 p.m.) Ananda Vanii was read in many languages in the morning at the campsite and online and explained by Ac. Iishvarakrsnananda Avt. Margiis from New Jersey, Washington DC, Boston, and New York were present on this auspicious occasion. They enjoyed and celebrated together on Baba’s 101st Birthday Celebration. It was a happy moment, and everyone felt the grace of Baba at Ananda Kalpataru. An Ananda Kalpataru Souvenir was also published and distributed in printed copies amongst the participants. The souvenir highlighted one year of activities since completing the land purchase.
On the occasion of Baba’s Birthday Celebration, we served the neighbors ice cream and juices. The neighbors expressed their opinions, and we addressed their concerns about Ananda Marga and the project.
The Margiis were happy and inspired when they left for home. They were all so inspired by visiting Ananda Kalpataru and celebrating Ananda Purnima.
The organizing committee was Ac. Kovid Brc., Avtk. Ananda Acira Ac., brother Timir, Ac. Dhruva, sister Devika, Ac. Diiptimanananda Avt., Ac. Anudhyanananda Avt., and Ac. Iishvarakrsnananda Avt. The Master Unit preparation was done by Ac. Abhiramananda Avt., Ac. Kovid Brc., brother Timir, brother Ghanendra, brother Dharmapala, sister Shefali, brother Dev, sister Prema, brother Mohan, sister Anima, and brother Madhuvrat. They were the team that successfully accelerated the work of the Master Unit. Avtk. Ananda Hitaprabha Ac. and Avtk. Ananda Acira Acarya coordinated the online retreat. On behalf of Ananda Marga New York Sector, we appreciate their sincerity and hard work in conducting the Spring Retreat and Ananda Purnima Celebration.