After the offering ceremony, we were allowed a quick drink before we would start the "aarti babaji".
When booking the weekend, I had googled "aarti babaji" just to know what it was and what to expect. Apparently, google doesn't know everything, so I left it to be a surprise for the weekend - but since it was scheduled 3 times, I hoped it was some sort of asana's or mindfulness exercises.
On Friday, we were already told that the ashram was build to honour a guru called Babaji. If I would have known that babaji was a person's name, I would have probably googled the "aarti" part alone, only to find out it was a religious ritual of worship (wikipedia's words). Before I knew it, we were sitting in a church-like setting, women on the left, men on the right, and were handed a little booklet in Sanskrit (with Dutch subtitles). There was a monk playing the harmonium and then the chanting began - and we were off....
I started reading the Dutch translation of the Sanskrit texts and got a flashback to my youth. I went to a Catholic school and we had to go to church quite often. The mass was what we called a singing mass - the priest would sing most of the hymns which resulted in them getting stuck in my mind forever. This was exactly the same thing to me, but replacing Jesus with Babaji....
For myself, I had struggled long enough wheather or not to believe in a supreme being, and I was at a point where I had had it with all sorts of worship..... "aarti babaji" was too much for me to comprehend. The worship of another human being was not my cup of tea.... sure, I was a big fan of Freddie Mercury and loved the way he could play a crowd, but I consider that admiration. Maybe Babaji was a Freddie Mercury for these monks... who knows.
I was glad the whole thing was over (another hour well spent - not) - finally we could have some breakfast.
The good thing about breakfast was that I could get a sense of what the others were thinking of the whole experience so far. Maybe I needed to open up even more to the experience. Surprisingly enough, the majority was not getting what they expected ... and most of them were not really happy about it either.
Anyway - the next item on the agenda was the Karma yoga - finally something that already was called yoga .... I was really looking forward to it.