Aug '08 Mysore Highlight

Guruji's Birthday Celebration

by Krista Shirley

So you missed Guruji’s 93rd birthday celebration? No worries, we are here to bring you a recap of the entire day’s festivities! Our beloved guru, Shri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, celebrated his 93rd birthday on the full moon, Guru Purnima day, Friday, July 18, 2008. The day was filled with joyous festivities, performances in honor of Guruji, a lunch fit for a king, and a silent auction to raise funds for the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois charitable trust –

In previous years Guruji’s birthday party took place at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (AYRI), but this year the venue for the celebration was in Kuvempunagar at the Sri Gururaghavendra Krupa Mandira, about a fifteen minute drive from the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. The spacious facility was fully equipped with a kitchen, a dining hall, a stage for the performances, plenty of room for all the guests and even space to hold the silent auction – a perfect place for Guruji’s birthday celebration. Guruji’s birthday Puja was conducted at home among close friends and family the previous day, so first time students to AYRI didn’t get to experience the spiritual and cultural devotional practice during the party. However, the absence of the Puja at the party did not take away from the enjoyment of the celebration.

Many long time students and a great many first time students of Guruji and Sharath attended the party decked out in traditional Indian garb. The hall was vibrant and full of saris of every imaginable color and design. It’s just not everyday that we yogis have the opportunity to dress to the hilt in a gorgeous sari and accompanying jewelry.

The day’s festivities began at 11:00am and went on until 3:00pm. The silent auction ran the duration of the party, and lunch was served at 1:00pm. Students, friends, and even family partook in performances in honor of our beloved Guruji. Long time student of Guruji’s, Maia Heiss, performed a contemporary dance in his honor; Amna played the guitar; John and Suzanne played the clarinet; and Shraddha and Prakruti stole the show with their bollywood dancing! The girls were lively, vivacious, and ultra entertaining.

Following the performances, Guruji was escorted on stage. Students then were given the opportunity to pay their respects to Guruji. One by one we were able to take a moment and show our love and appreciation to the man who has inevitably touched all of our lives in profound ways.

After the last of Guruji’s students paid their respects, it was time to bring out the birthday cake! It is custom to cut the cake before serving food. Sharath, his wife and children Shraddha and Sambo, Saraswati and her daughter Sharmila Mahesh (affectionately know as 'Shammi'), and Sharmila’s son Pruthvi and her daughter Prakruti were all front and center to help Guruji cut his birthday cake. Immediately after the cutting of the cake, it was time for lunch! Many of the guests, myself included, disappeared upstairs to eat. Like many guests, I had not eaten anything all day in anticipation of the feast that was to come. By the time we sat down to eat I could have eaten the bamboo leaf itself I was so famished. And how was lunch you might ask? It was simply amazing. We enjoyed a Thali lunch on bamboo leaves with non-stop servings of savory and sweet treats. I never thought a meal could taste so good.

By the time lunch finished there was just enough time left for people to view and bid on items from the silent auction. Some such items included artwork by a local artist, massage sessions, acupuncture and chiropractic sessions, a three month membership to the Regallis pool, a month long chanting course, chanting CDs and books, and some of Sharath’s signed photographs of wildlife. The proceeds of the silent auction will go into the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Charitable Trust, which was established in January 2006. Monies from the trust are used to promote and support local organizations in Mysore, India that work to benefit less privileged people. The Shri K. Pattabhi Jois charitable trust seeks to organize charitable activities and otherwise aid disabled, physically and mentally challenged, elderly, and abused people in Mysore and the environment by providing necessary education, training and rehabilitation programs.

The Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Charitable Trust was set up in honor of Guruji’s 90th birthday in 2005. The Trust gives 100% of its contributions to charitable projects in the local community. It is a charitable organization exempt under Section 12A and 80(G) of the Income Tax Act (1961) in India. For more information on the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Trust, beneficiaries that have been supported by the trust, and ways you can give please visit

The silent auction was a huge success thanks to Nancy Yu, who generously donated countless hours working to put the auction together, find items and services for donation, and successfully execute the auction during Guruji’s birthday party. A big thanks to Nancy and all the generous people who donated items or services for the cause.

To sum up the day, it was full of fun, excitement, color, good food, and amazing company. Guruji’s 93rd birthday party was not only a huge success; it was also an immensely memorable experience for all us yogis lucky enough to be able to attend!

To view more images from this year's birthday celebration, visit our photo gallery.

Krista is currently practicing in Mysore, India. She writes the blog "AshtangaYogini".

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