News from the 33rd Mela!

The 2015 Ananda Mela was a fun and uplifting week of new and old connecting, deepening spirituality and engaging workshops. Presenters drew on a wide range of experience and expertise to express the theme, Dancing with the Universe.

Aboriginal activist, Wiruungga Dunggiirr, opened the Mela with a traditional welcoming ceremony. The festive atmosphere was quickly set with the help of lively games led by the well resourced Doni Gannon.

Education and Futures specialist, Manorainjan Bussey, began the workshops by engaging participants in imagining the day to day reality of life in various stages of civilization from hunter gatherer to industrial, and the views of life that evolved out of and sustained them. The exercise posed the same challenge for the post-industrial age into which we are transitioning, and a remarkably high level of consensus formed around the conclusion – that we need a whole other session for this at the next Mela.

Dr. Bussey also presented on Neo-humanist Education. The workshop began with ‘presencing’, an exercise that helped participants’ attune to the stories of all things from simple objects to the heart of humanity. This was followed by ‘imagining’, where the bridges we are crossing on our way to Neo-humanist Education were presented in a thought provoking poem. Finally, in ‘thinking implications,’ the group divided to discuss and debate the implications of change that reach back to us from our future visions. What all agreed on was that education today was in need of a considerable dose of spirit to help it achieve the broader goals that planet and community require of it.

Local organic farmer and crusader, Ray Palmer, shared the story of Symara Organic Farm, the project he and his wife, Samantha, started and run, with the enthusiastic cooperation of their two young children. The project includes direct marketing, with local people picking up their box of produce every week in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) scheme. Another important pillar of the project is the Coop started by Dharmamitra and Suveda, through which local organic producers share a stall at a Brisbane market.

The Dramatherapy for Fun workshop, led by Caelinn Largey, ran over three days. Participants had fun engaging with the childlike, playful, and often neglected side of our nature, built trust and developed self-knowledge through story creation, role play and improvisation. The closing rituals reflected our spiritual nature by reinforcing the fact that we are all connected.

Our neighbour at Ananda Palli, Tara Atkinson, who gave the Tapping Into Personal Power workshops, writes: “I thoroughly enjoyed presenting the workshops. My intention was to share practical skills to handle stressful or challenging experiences as they occur. People who attended the workshops told me they had started tapping already and were receiving benefits. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this lovely Festival of Bliss.”

Jeanette Harvey related the fascinating journey that led to her writing her historical novel ‘Sisters of the Bruce.’ The novel draws from obscurity the often harrowing experiences endured by three of Robert the Bruce’s sisters in the turbulent years of Scotland’s war of independence in the 14th century. Participants also got a sense of the craft of writing historical fiction by choosing a picture of a historic setting and animating it with their imagination and feeling.

Dada Paramatmananda’s workshop, The Age of Spiritual Intelligence provided a frame for evolution as a journey through physical, psychic, psycho-spiritual and spiritual experience. Having passed through the Information Age (psychic) we are now in the age of Spiritual Intelligence (psycho-spiritual). Participants collaborated to gain insights into the experience of this age.

Carolyn Hall of Tenterfield’s Saddler’s Circus brought skill and delight with poi and human pyramids. Under the care of Doni and Charlotte the Mela Kids performed anintricatearm drill that fused elements of 70s disco, Tai Chi and aircraft marshaling. Liila Haas drew on her Naturopathy background to present on food and its many subtle qualities. Didi Ananda Nirmala presented on the history of the Aboriginal civil rights struggle and Wiruungga on Permaculture projects run by indigenous youth that he has helped establish.

Taraka’s Basket Weaving with Fabric Community Creationtransformed old fabric into the smartest looking craft boutique baskets. Sam Okoth and Sam Willcocks, led Sam Sam’s African Drumming and Dance circles into exuberance but with enough discipline to impart complex rhythms and moves to perform on the last night. Francis Gilfedder quickly established a proficient Gamelan orchestra from mainly non musicians. The sound combined with Tibetan bells and African drumming raised Ananda Palli into a rich cultural soundscape.

Other performances ranged from the rough and ready affinity group creations to the polished and professional. Francis and Sam both employed a loop machine to create multi-layered backdrops to their solo performances, Francis on an array of flutes and singing bowls and Sam on his unique Nyatiti (W. African lyre).

A big Hurray! for the Kitchen Staff who worked tirelessly throughout the Mela to bring us delicious fare including a brown rice (Yea!) and a vegan (Yipee!) option. The hardy trio of Everything You Wanted to Know about Ananda Marga, Heart Circle and Yogi Chef continue to be a mainstay along with daily yoga, led by Taraka and Liila, and songs, chanting and meditation that help set the blissful mood of the Mela.

A special development this Mela was a series of meetings where Mela participants who could contribute knowledge and skills to Ananda Palli’s development brainstormed ideas for Ananda Palli’s utilization outside of Mela time. One suggestion that was immediately adopted was to have a Karma Yoga (working bee) retreat on 15th & 16th of March. The main tasks for the weekend were building and grounds maintenance and repair, and participants enjoyed what Ananda Palli does best – good food, good company, kiirtan and meditation. If you would like to don overalls and help at any time at Ananda Palli, please let me know (dadajii@gmail.com).

If you’d like to help with childcare, offer a workshop or need any other information, email info@anandamela.org.au

Click here to see our exciting programme for 2016. To receive direct information about the 34th Ananda Mela, please join our mailing list by sending a request to info@anandamela.org.au.

Ananda Mela in early January 2016, is a Music and Wellbeing Festival featuring yoga & meditation, music and culture, creativity, arts & crafts, inspiring workshops, community creations, delicious vegetarian food, a camping holiday for the whole family and a great way to start the new year. Organised by Ananda Marga near Stanthorpe, Qld, Australia, 2016 is our 34th year and we’re planning a blissful event.

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