Ananda Family News

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Twin Baby Blessings

As you may have noticed by now, Julie and Tim are about to become the parents of twins (and Lauri the proud aunt). The two boys are due to make their appearance in late January or early February. They haven't been named yet, though they're in moderate danger of being stuck with "Bo" and "Clyde," thanks to a spoof Christmas letter Tim sent out this year.

Lauri: "My nephews!!!!"

On Sunday afternoon we had a baby blessing ceremony for the family. It's a simple but sweet ceremony: we sing chants while everyone takes turns coming up to Tim, Julie, and the still-be-wombed boys, and showering them with rose petals and blessings.

"Come out of the darkness, Mother...." (sons?)

Julie and Tim send their heartfelt thanks for all the love and support you've all shared. The boys still aren't saying much, but were kicking like crazy during the ceremony so we assume they appreciated it too. And we're all looking forward to meeting them and being the village that helps raise the children.

Aums and blessings.

[More pictures here. Thanks, Karen!]

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas and Christmas Eve

At Sunday Service yesterday, Shanti spoke very beautifully about the holy-day season at Ananda. This month and a half or so is filled to bursting with events and activities, but also with divine love and joy. The Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services are particularly special, in very different ways.

Christmas Eve is a very sweetly inward time. We came together in the temple at 8 PM, when the whole world is already settling into that silent, holy night, which gives the group meditation its own special feel, even compared to the all-day meditation last week. The lights are kept low and focused on the altar, and you can feel as though you never stop meditating, even throughout the entire service. And we each got a chance, in the Festival of Light, to carry our candles to the altar and personally offer up our own little lights into Christ's blazing light of infinity.

Christmas Day, on the other hand, is the day for story-telling and pageantry. Asha tells the story of Jesus's birthday in a way that makes the meaning of it accessible to all the children of the extended Ananda family. (Many adults have also said they were delighted to find that they understand the story better themselves this way!)
And of course it's all more fun if it's participatory. We had angels and wise men and shepherds of all ages on stage helping to present the story. And at the end, the audience gets to come forward to greet the baby Jesus and receive blessings from the whole holy cast of characters.
We rounded off the festivities with a Christmas banquet and entertainment. A special treat this year was the singing of O Holy Night. While the assembled banqueters sang, Saranya and her family performed it in sign language for us. Beautiful!

[More pictures here: Christmas EveChristmas Day, and Christmas Day batch II. Thanks to intrepid photographers Karen, David G., Tanya, and Daya!]

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Christmas Celebrations

First, a quick followup to our Christmas Concert: We've got a few photos posted here for you to enjoy.

On Saturday we had our annual all-day meditation: 8 serene hours in the temple, with breaks for chanting, recordings of Yogananda singing and speaking (and exhorting us to "practice Kriya Yoga!"), and several other pieces of music to boost our inspiration throughout the day. The Blue Danube tradition, which some people missed last year, returned in one of the interludes as well. Master always liked that piece of music, comparing it to being in the astral world.

On Sunday morning it was bucketing down rain, but David P. assured us that our annual Christmas caroling had never been canceled due to weather (though if it did keep raining, we were more than welcome to sit inside and sing to him). Sure enough, the rain had ceased by nightfall, and only started up again when we were just within range to get back to the community and sing our last song under the gazebo. A great time was had by all, from the singers, to the "regulars" who expect us every year, to the new family we got to welcome to the neighborhood. We even did a few strolling carols as we walked between houses.

And just to throw in one more bit of fun for you, some Christmas wreath elves visited the Ananda Palo Alto residential community, leaving us with a joy-shaped wreath.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Concert

After service on Sunday we enjoyed a delicious lunch in the yoga studio, featuring some of the best vegetarian chili ever, cornbread with honey-butter, and oodles of tasty holiday desserts. (Thanks to Anandaprem and Kristina for coordinating all that!) Thus fortified with sugar, butter, and other essential nutrients, we headed back into the temple for the choir concert.

The concert was a delightful success, featuring a 30+ person choir, plus performances by smaller ensembles and soloists. Todd and Janice provided lovely piano and harp accompaniment. The music included, of course, many of Swami Kriyananda's songs (from the Oratorio and otherwise), a carol medley, and several classical pieces, finishing off with a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah chorus.

One audience member had recently heard the San Jose Symphony & Choir perform Handel's Messiah, and said that the Ananda choir sounded "just as great." Another fellow mentioned that he was frequently in tears (in a good way!) during the program. From the choir's perspective, we certainly had a fantastic time. And Karen clearly had a blast conducting -- she was practically surfing the energy wave on the last Hallelujah chorus!

If you missed the concert or just want to relive it, you can get videos and MP3s for many of the songs here. (Thanks, Ron!) Here's "Hallelujah" to start you off:

CCHallelujah from Ananda Palo Alto on Vimeo.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Beyond the Internet

Have you seen the banner we put up a few weeks ago? It's nice to know there's still somewhere to turn when the search engines come up short....

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