As promised, I’m here today with an update from the Ashram! It was an amazing experience. I hope to go back many more times.
I arrived to the Gurdwara around 3:20 AM. I found parking rather easily for West Hollywood. I stepped in front of the temple, which was playing soft kirtans on the outside speakers. I slipped off my shoes and covered my head with a scarf. When I opened the doors, there was a Sikh meditating on the farthest wall. Later I learned he was the Sewadar- one who guards the Gurdwara 24/7. I was greeted by a very friendly Sikh, Tej. He welcomed me in and kind of showed me around. He briefly explained the schedule for the next 4 hours. I was introduced by a few more people. I felt totally at home.
I walked over to the takhat, where the Guru resides, and touched my forehead to the floor in front of the Guru. I set my intentions for the morning and opened my heart to whatever experience was awaiting.
I found a place to sit in lotus and I began to meditate. I must have been doing that for about 20 minutes or so. I heard chimes, then, and the Sewadar began to stir from his meditative state. He laughed for a few moments, which made me smile. He stretched his limbs out, walked over to me, and gave me hug. I could feel the energy buzzing off of him.
Tej passed out Holy Books for each of us to follow along to while chanting. Tej led the chants along with another Sikh woman. There 7 of us all together seated on the carpet of the temple, chanting for 30 minutes or so. The chimes sounded again and we were led in a brief prayer to set our intentions for Seva.
It was time to get down to business. Tej played some kirtan music overhead as we got out the vacuums and rolled up our sleeves. As my new friend, Jess, vacuumed each and every (large) Persian rug, we all rolled them up and put them to the side. We delicately took apart the takhat and joined in prayer as we moved the Guru from his resting place.
I swept the marble halls. We all got buckets with clean water and on our hands and knees, we cleaned each inch of the floor and walls with a wet rag. Next, Tej took gallons of milk and poured them where the takhat was. Again on our knees, we used our bare hands to push the milk everywhere, polishing the floor.
The funnest part is when we flooded the entire place with buckets of water. The actual act of tossing the water along the marble and out of the temple doors was very healing and symbolic of personal cleansing. We all chanted as we did this.
We grabbed large towels and hand-dried the floor. Then, just as carefully as we had started, we put everything back the way it was.
In the next room, the Guru sat along with his Kirpan, swords. We had a procession as we brought the Guru over and we sang to him.
A few of us sat on the carpet and polished the swords. We bowed to the Guru and touched our foreheads to the floor again.
Finally, we sang kirtans for the next hour with accordions and tambourines.
We prayed a last time. Tej passed out a ball of pudding for each of us, 5 almonds, and chai tea. We ate together, talked a bit, hugged, and went our separate ways.
It was a very beautiful experience and I was glad to be apart of the community. They were all friendly and ensured that I felt welcomed.
PS- My body is super sore today!