This year, the gorgeous altar was mirrored by another incredible display at the opposite end of the temple. Surrounding us with the masters this way really transformed the space in a very special way. (See all the photos here, courtesy of Suman.)
Going far beyond mere "tea," food was seemingly trucked in by many culinarily talented volunteers. We had savories (saag paneer, samosas, mushroom empanadas, salads, and tables-ful more), sweets (the brownies alone came in 5 fancy varieties), and a chocolate fountain with a variety of dip-ables.
Ananda being the musical place it is, we did enjoy a song from the choir, but we also got the whole audience up on stage as well (nearly -- we did rather overflow). Split into six groups, we all sang each other Swamiji's 6-part song, "Channels." Very appropriately for a members' celebration, this song reminds us that we're all channels for God's grace in our own unique and important ways, and that it takes all of our parts to make a beautiful, harmonious whole.
For further entertainment, we played a game of "Guess Whose Mysterious Past." Groups of devotees sat on stage and the audience guessed which of them was described in each surprising, unusual, impressive, or even frightening story that David read to us. You may not have been aware that there are those among us who have rebuilt the engine of a motorcycle to drive it across the country, were olympic-level swimmers, or can sing like the reincarnation of Louis Armstrong.
And last but not least... have you ever wondered what it would be like if Gilbert and Sullivan had been devotees on our path? Wonder no more, for the song has now been written and performed. (And Jeffrey was even quick enough with his iPhone to get a video of it.)