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My Christmas in Ganeshpuri


Photo - My Ganeshpuri Christmas Tree, 2023


My Christmas last year took place in the town of Ganeshpuri.  This was a first in that I would be experiencing the holiday season away from my two sons (very far away!), with the exception of one Christmas when my older son was across the ocean from America in Brussels.  I still remember talking to him on Christmas Day, and his holiday experience sounded less than adequate…But, he was a good sport about it and made do; as did I. 


Even in the prior month to Christmas this  last year, in November, I found myself wondering how I would handle being on the other side of the world from my two sons, who both live in the U.S. during this time.  And I even entertained the idea of returning for a short while to remedy this situation. 

That idea was quickly shelved for various reasons, among them that it required so much in terms of time and energy, not to mention the expense of airline tickets…


Just to mention, I was brought up Catholic but, in my twenties, that particular affiliation came to end very naturally when I encountered a profound and powerful spiritual path out of India.   It was a very natural evolution, on my part…So, though no longer a  part of a Christian denomination, I do understand and, of course, honor this holiday’s divine significance. 


So, regarding last year’s situation…It was not easy to break this pattern of spending Christmas with my two sons.  Granted they are in their twenties, 25 and 29. But still, for me it was a dramatic and significant departure.  They, on the other hand, said they would love to see me but to do what works for  me. 


So, yes, I did end up celebrating Christmas in Ganeshpuri. And it was lovely.  


In preparation for the day, firstly  I decided to buy an array of gifts to be distributed to the village children.  That was a fun piece of shopping!  Then, I ordered chocolates that I would distribute after the noon arati in the Bhagavan Nityananda Samadhi Shrine. (And I did it in style. I wore a Santa hat as I distributed the goodies! This did seem to bring a smile to some.) 


Next, I had the project of creating a Christmas Tree, no small feat in a smaller town in India!  Someone provided me with the idea of finding a tree-like plant at a nursery not far away.  So one fine morning, off I went with a friend to secure a tree.  And a perfect one was found, albeit small in stature.  And I did manage to acquire some cute tree decorations.


All was set for Christmas Day!  


I planned to hand out the gifts to the kids around 

mid-morning at a spot along the main road in town-the front area of a friend’s shop.  The Christmas Tree sparkled as we awaited the arrival of the children. Once my friend gave the signal, those children came a-galloping!  The neighborhood communication network was, indeed, impressive!  Word spread very quickly.


I had a couple friends help and provided Santa hats  for them  to complete the scene.  It really was fun.  It seemed to happen so quickly! Gifts were distributed to the eager recipients as a popular Christmas tune was being played - not a classic but definitely a happening one! (“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey.)


A short time later, I attended the noon Arati at the samadhi shrine and, as planned, I handed out chocolates after as folks were leaving.  Santa hat donned, folks seemed to really appreciate the Christmas cheer (and the chocolates!).


Due to the time difference, I ended up speaking to the kids early-ish the next morning wherein I spent a wonderful, extended period of time on FaceTime with my sons, Joseph and Paul, and Joseph’s girlfriend, Zoe. I had purchased a gift for each of them through Amazon and gift-opening happened as we hung out together.  It was all so sweet! (They gave me a fabulous gift upon my return.) 


I look back fondly on this seasonal time in a far off land…(Relative to where I am now!) As it turns out,  this Christmas in Ganeshpuri delighted and was well celebrated. Beloved India...sacred Ganeshpuri... provided and supported a beautiful  and memorable experience and for that I am grateful. 


Annie Kiyonaga 


April 23, 2024


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