"We have infinite wants and limited resources" is an old economic saying which holds particularly true for Guru Puja. We want to provide the best for Guru Maharaj Ji and all (lie premies attending but are held back by our small supply of green energy: money.
Only three weeks ago we found out that instead of a simple darshan program we would be staging a Pacific Guru Puja festival. This news altered our cost situation considerably because three budget factors have now changed. Firstly, now that Guru Maharaj Ji is not going to New Zealand, we will not be getting the $3,000 to $4,000 contribution to Maharaj Ji's airfares that we were expecting. The New Zealand premies are now struggling to get the $200 airfare to Sydney. Secondly, Maharaj Ji is now doing two programs instead of one as was indicated originally. This meant that we had to upgrade our Saturday night venue to the Capitol Theatre, which will cost us about $2,500. And thirdly, Maharaj Ji and his entourage are staying longer in Australia than was planned for originally; whilst we have economised on his accommodation by his own request, we are still faced with another $3,000 in costs. So these three changes of plan have added a further $9,000 to the Festival expenses.
Apart from these three changes, further expense problems are found in the general festival costs. These costs include stage construction, vehicle hire, administration expenses, and film costs (which cannot he budgeted for accurately as yet)
We are hoping that the increase in registration fees and individual donations will cover outstanding expenses which amount to about $15,000.
We are pruning back our expenditure as much as possible but the major costs cannot be cut. These also include bus hire for transport to programs and hire of the Sydney Showground pavilions for an all-day fair and workshops plus two satsang programs on either side of the festival to cater for the many premies arriving early and leaving late. All these major expenses are necessary for taking care of 2,000 people smoothly, and any reduction would result in inconvenience to premies (e.g. walking a mile from the Kings Cross hotels to the Opera House). Thus the shortage of funds has to be made up by the Australian premie community.
Fund-raising has begun through dances and other events, kicked off notably by a celebration in Terrigal, New South Wales, which billed Rockit as "the worst rock and roll band on earth", and Frankenstein, a play adapted from Melbourne's successful beach tour of last summer. But apart from organised get-togethers, a lot still depends on individual donations.
We ask everyone who can afford it to co-operate in making Guru Puja a fantastic event. Our original budget has changed because of more activity at the Sydney Showground, the three major changes in plan mentioned earlier, and our inexperience in anticipating costs for a festival of this size with little notice that a festival was happening. It deserves mentioning again that we were originally staging a darshan program but now we are organising a full-fledged festival, which is quite a difference in scope and preparation. But now that all the major costs and events have been finalised, we can try to provide the finishing touches both on a physical and financial level.
It would be ideal if we could come away from this festival without breaking the Mission's stride. That is, the sooner we pay off our festival expenses, the sooner we can get back to propagating Knowledge to society in general. The festival itself is a marvellous piece of propagation because its organisation brings us into contact with many new people, and it offers us the inspiration of Guru Maharaj Ji's presence. But then we have to put that inspiration into action in a practical way.
Australia has received darshan twice before, but this is the first opportunity for us to celebrate a major festival with Guru Maharaj Ji. When Guru Maharaj Ji was here last year, he told us all to get our community together, and this festival will be the family event to highlight our work towards a a real community. The community is built on the individual effort of each premie. The willingness of each of us to dedicate whatever time and energy we have will determine the success of this Guru Puja and anything that the community undertakes.
Pacific Guru Puja
In last month's issue of The Golden Age, we printed a letter from Mike Donner, the former national director of Divine Light Mission in the United States. We mentioned that he was serving a prison sentence, but unfortunately we forgot to say why.
Before coming to Divine Light Mission, Mike worked with an anti-war group called Beaver 55. In 1968, he and five other members were arrested and charged with destroying draft records. He was finally convicted and sentenced to three years in a minimum security prison in Kansas. After a year's sentence, he will be eligible for parole.
If you want to write to Mike, make sure that you don't use DLM notepaper or envelopes, as he is only allowed personal mail and also be sure to write your own address on the outside of the envelope. Then send it to:-
John Michael Donner
(31620-138) Box 1000
Leavenworth Kansas 66048
However, be selfless about not receiving a reply as Mike is not allowed to send mail outside America.