The following account of the first Winter Solstice comes to us from Hari Singh Bird and an article in Beads of Truth. Four decades later we are keeping up the tradition, although things have gotten a bit more sophisticated since then, as this account illustrates.
Beads of Truth article, Summer 1972:
“We have been fortunate to have Yogi Bhajan with us for over three years. The first Summer Solstice celebration where Yogiji taught and many people gathered to share in the experience took place in 1969 in Santa Fe. With every passing year, they have gotten better, more meaningful and more 'together.'
“But another major celebration occurred this past December—our first celebration of the 'Winter Solstice,' which we enjoyed in the balmy climate of Southern Florida. All the family gathered from points as far as Washington State, Toronto, Oregon, Arizona, and California. We all joined together on the beautiful ashram land of Baba Siri Chand Ashram in Orlando, but as the more than 200 students began to be noticed by the local residents, the local officials also gathered in large numbers.
Change of Plans
No problem. We formed a caravan—calmly, very together—and proceeded to a new site staked out by our beloved guide, Yogi Bhajan. We rented a corner of a very lovely trailer park, and there everybody pitched their tents, set up their busses, and did what was required. It was really a beautiful experience to see everyone so united, so undaunted, and so much together as a family, without a question, without a grumble, and without any hassle!”
Hari Singh elaborates upon the story at this point. He said that when people began arriving at the ashram to set up, the neighbors immediately began complaining and calling County offices. The Sheriff’s office sent deputies to the ashram and eventually the Orange County Health Department was called. Yogiji arrived and called Hari Singh at the Health Department where he worked, to lend any assistance to the dilemma. By the time he arrived at the ashram, the Green Acres Mobile Home park (which was about 4-5 miles away) had been contacted, and arrangements were made to move the Winter Solstice Sadhana to the Green Acres site.
“We (Hari Singh and Kaur) returned to the Pine Hills ashram with the kids in the early evening, intending to drive to the trailer park in a caravan. Yogiji met us and directed the four of us to take him in our little VW bug to the Green Acres site.
The Wild Ride
“He told us to catch up with the lead vehicle at the head of the caravan, which required us to encounter considerable numbers of oncoming traffic on the narrow two-lane road. It was turning dark and when we got to the head of the column we approached a fork in the road. Yogiji asked for our flashlight and directed us to stop the car. He then got out of the car and proceeded to direct the caravan to the right fork, waving the flashlight. Then he jumped back into our VW and directed us to get to the front of the column again! What a great ride! What a great night! What a great Winter Solstice!”
Beads of Truth article: “Everyone settled into the routine of trailer park life, with all perfect facilities, (and no problem with local officials on zoning regulations). Twice a day food was prepared at the ashram and carried out to the trailer park for distribution, langar style. Each day Yogiji arrived early, and classes went on until sundown, when it was time to eat again. Classes always included a few rounds of dancing, singing, or some goad Shakti/Shaktiman (men/women) sports. We all enjoyed Christmas together. Santa Claus visited the children's tents during the night and left a bag full of goodies. Then Yogiji was presented with a most beautiful bright red Santa Claus cape and cap, as well as some very fine luggage which comes in very handy while flying all over to visit all of you!
“It was a very Divine experience, a practical demonstration on the part of all the students and teachers present, of how much they have grown, how dedicated they are to the teachings of Yogiji (that is, Sat Nam) and how much they have become 'together,' united to stand for Truth.
“God has given us Yogiji to give us guidance. He has given us a beautiful family to relate to in times of need and in times of joy. And He has given us a great opportunity to grow strong together to be united to help the future, but also He has given us a great responsibility to live up to all those blessings.”
Our Winter Solstice Sadhana Celebration is still in Florida, and we still sing, dance, and serve one another. We are still dedicated to the teachings of Yogi Bhajan and welcome everyone to come experience their own sacredness, connect to their souls, and dwell in the company of our 3HO spiritual family from around the world.
Sources: Beads of Truth, Summer 1972; Hari Singh Bird http://www.harisingh.com/3HOHistory.htm
Photo by Hari Bhajan Kaur Khalsa, Writer, Poet and Chief Enlightenment Officer, www.yogamint.com