24/7 – A Day to Remember!

In a first, an online Sāmūhika Shrī Guru Pūjana involving all sabhā-s was performed on the auspicious occasion of Guru Pūrṇimā on 24th July 2021...  A unique 24/7 connect with our Guru.  A report on this meticulously planned and executed event by Archanā Kumṭā and Kavitā Kārnāḍ

The Sāyujyam initiative was launched in March 2021 to commemorate two red-letter days that occur in 2022: The 75th birth anniversary of our H.H. Guruswāmī Parijñānāshram Swāmījī III and the 25th year of Mat͟hādipatya of H.H. Shrīmat Sadyojāt Shaṅkarāshram Swāmījī.  It was H.H Swāmījī’s saṅkalpa that sādhaka-s should learn and regularly perform Shrī Guru Pūjana during the Tercentenary year (2008).  After all these years, we have been given this opportunity to again make it an integral part of our sādhanā.  

In January 2021, the Sāyujyam core team met virtually to take this idea forward.  After several initial virtual discussions and meetings, a Yuvadhārā back-end team was formed to help stream the live session. The pilot training sessions started in the T͟hāṇe and Bangalore Sabhā-s. Subsequently more sabhā-s followed, by training sādhaka-s to perform Shrī Guru Pūjana. The pandemic that effectively paralysed even day-to day activities did however have a silver lining: many who were hesitant earlier now realised the necessity of going online, and enthusiastically embraced the new opportunities it offered; distance and travel became a thing of the past. Soon train-the-trainer sessions were held online, e-documents were created to ensure standardization, and some amount of training on how to go online was also given to sādhaka-s. Videos of Shrī Guru Pūjana were created and uploaded to the website, which became reference material for those who were not familiar with the upachāra-s and the uchchāraṇa.  By May 2021 monthly online Shrī Guru Pūjana sessions were being held in the T͟hāṇe, BeṅgaĪūru, Dādar sabhā-s.

A few months later, the Sāyujyam core team planned an All Sabhā Sāmūhika Shrī Guru Pūjana, to be streamed live on Guru Pūrṇimā (24th July 2021.)  Coordinators of the Local Sabhā-s were informed, and they nominated two sādhaka-s from each sabhā to perform the pūjana. These representatives of each sabhā would be seen performing the pūjana on screen from their respective individual locations. In an overwhelming response, 55 participants from 35 sabhā-s in India and abroad came forward to register.  Representation came in the age groups from 15 to late 80s and also from relatively smaller sabhā-s like Nāgpur, Kundāpur, Kumṭā, Uḍupī and Mallāpur. 

The enthusiasm of the participating sādhaka-s was contagious, looking forward to give their best to their beloved Guru on this momentous occasion.  To ensure smooth functioning of the event, technical rehearsals and trial runs were organized. Here, all sādhaka-s were given individual inputs about the placement of their sāmagrī, lighting, camera angles, background and audio feedback. This was deftly handled by the yuvā team, who patiently took them through the paces. The yuvā-s regularly updated the participants via whatsapp messages, tirelessly answering every query.

An interesting incident occurred as we were preparing for the webcast. For the live onscreen template, we did not have a recent picture of the Samādhī in Mallāpur of H.H. Shrīmat Shaṅkarāshram Swāmījī II. Mallāpur, being where H.H. Swāmījī is observing Chāturmāsa 2021. Frantic calls were made with no result. Then, out of the blue, without even being asked, one of the yuvā-s from Mallāpur sent us a picture of the divine Samādhī which was made the holding card on all the slides.  

24th July 2021 dawned and the core team was busy coordinating, sending messages via Anushravas, helping with back-end work, generating the live stream link for the website and at the same time keeping HH Secretariat updated. After receiving blessings from H.H. Swāmījī, the virtual All Sabhā Sāmūhika Shrī Guru Pūjana session was all set to go live.  Last minute testing, instructions given by Sharmilā KumbĪe to all the participants and the – “1, 2, 3 - You are Live” –  gave yuvā, Mohit KārkaĪ, the cue to begin the program with the Sabhā Prārambha Prārthanā.  Āryā Dhāreshwar, then chanted the Shrī Gurupādukā Stotram and Shrī Parijñānāshram Trayodashī. The revised version of the much-loved Tercentenary Signature Song of Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h was played with the lyrics seen on the screen.  This was followed by Mohit KārkaĪ chanting the Shrī Guru Pūjana. Eight sādhaka-s performing pūjana were shown at a time on screen, with the picture of the divine Samādhī at Guru Mat͟h, Mallāpur ever-present on the left of screen. All 55 sādhaka-s were seen in rotation, even as they remained completely focused and engrossed in the pūjana. That’s when we noticed something on the screen - one pāchī suddenly waving her arms frantically and then continued with her pūjana as if nothing had happened.  Later, she told us that she had accidentally triggered the smoke alarm in her house!  

The flawless streaming of the first ever virtual All Sabhā Shrī Guru Pūjana started on the dot of 6pm IST and concluded with the Sabhā Samāpti Prārthanā exactly at 7pm IST followed by Dīpanamaskāra.  During Dīpanamaskāra, the focus was on a decorated lamp in front of the photos of our revered Guru-s.  Besides the 55 participating sādhaka-s seen on the virtual platform, scores of sādhaka-s performed the pūjana from their homes while watching the livestream on the Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h website.  

The different time zones didn’t seem to dampen the spirit or the enthusiasm of the sādhaka-s.  With the grace of our Guruparamparā, the torrential rains did not disrupt the streaming and connectivity.  After the virtual programme, the response on the whatsapp groups was overwhelming.  Sādhaka-s expressed their joy and gratitude to our Pūjya Swāmījī for this opportunity to collectively perform this sevā.  Their love and enthusiasm was palpable when they blessed all the yuvā-s and the Sāyujyam core team for their help and support.  

This virtual screening brought the ambience and the spandana of Mallāpur Guru Mat͟h and Sāyujya of our beloved Guru into each of our homes and hearts.