Meherwan Jessawala, Falu Dadachanji, Davana Brown, Peter (don't know his last name, but he's staying in Meherazad to help Falu) and I stood in the queue this morning for around an hour and took Darshan. Amartithi formally starts at 3 pm today. We were reminiscing about the 7 days that Baba was in the Tomb in 1969 and the first Amartithi in 1970. Conditions for the pilgrims who came in '70 were primitive. The toilets were pits with wooden boards put across so people could squat over them. There was no hot water, in fact it was so cold that for the only time in my memory there was a very, very thin membrane of ice on water kept out overnight. The tents didn't have cloth to the bottom and the icy wind whistled through, chilling everyone. We would pack mattresses, blankets, sheets, pillows, etc. in the ubiquitous 'bedding rolls', a very Indian phenomenon, and we were still cold and had to curl up against each other.
Today, the family have a home close by, and we stay in great comfort. But the magic of those early Amartithis is still bright in our hearts. We'd start the day with Arti in the Tomb with Mehera, Mani and the rest of the ladies, though we may have been awake all night with Eruch, and Mansari would let me help to clean the Tomb early - before the ladies came in. There were not that many people, so volunteers could let people take their time and not hurry the pilgrims as we do today. Some come from thousands of miles away, in very uncomfortable trains or buses, and don't even get a few peaceful seconds to be with their Beloved. Others come just to be in His presence, they don't really get a chance to take Darshan, but are content to touch the walls of His Tomb and consider their journey blessed.
Amartithi is the time Meherabad is fully charged with the energy and love of the thousands and thousands who come to be with Him on the day He left the physical form behind. It is a time of joy but also the pain of those who never saw Him. The young girl in front of Meherwan in the line put her head on the Samadhi and sobbed her heart out. She had to be helped up to leave the Tomb, she really wanted a few moments more, but there was a crush of people behind her and she had to go. Baba brings us so much that reminds us that He is the Ancient One, the Lord of Lords, the Highest of the High. Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!!!