Volunteers Turn Jungle into Dream: Shanti Vun Meditation Garden Open for Enjoyment

By Morgan McClary

Many hope for their dreams to become real­i­ty. Vijaya Lux­mi doesn’t need to hope any­more. Her vision of a tran­quil med­i­ta­tion gar­den hon­or­ing the mem­o­ry of her par­ents is now open to the public.

A jun­gle has turned into a habi­tat for every­one to enjoy,” Vijaya said. I’m so hap­py for all of your sup­port because it takes a vil­lage to take care of Vijaya,” she laughed.

Dozens of peo­ple strolled around the grounds of the Shan­ti Vun Med­i­ta­tion Gar­den on July 10, many using a near­by pin oak for shade dur­ing the warm afternoon.

Vijaya’s son, Alok Kumar, served as the mas­ter of cer­e­monies. Vibrant dec­o­ra­tions, the faint smell of incense, and float­ing bub­bles set the scene of a joy­ous cel­e­bra­tion ded­i­cat­ing the new space which includes a pond, trick­ling water­fall, pavil­ion, and stone labyrinth. Guests includ­ing Vijaya’s sis­ters from India, Anoopa Prasad and Indi­ra Gup­ta, rejoiced and hon­ored their father Dar­shan Lal and moth­er Kam­la Devi through thought­ful read­ings, song, and dance. 

Indi­ra described some of her par­ents’ notable traits to the crowd— pos­i­tive think­ing and giv­ing to oth­ers. Today we all are here to remem­ber their val­ues and thank them for the vision that they have giv­en us,” she said. Thank you all for com­ing here to cel­e­brate this mem­o­ry of our parents.”

Nolan Marciniec, Lan­dis Board of Trustees mem­ber and one of many of Vijaya’s friends read the poem When I am Among the Trees,” by Mary Oliver. 

I had to find a poem that spoke to Vijaya,” Nolan said. I knew that it had to be about trees and I knew that it had to be about the heal­ing pow­er of nature.”

Ground broke on the Shan­ti Vun (or Peace For­est) Med­i­ta­tion Gar­den in 2019. Progress con­tin­ued through­out 2020 and 2021 with the help of a ded­i­cat­ed group of volunteers.

There’s no way words can thank you,” Vijaya said. 

Fred Breglia, direc­tor of the Lan­dis Arbore­tum, said the space was pre­vi­ous­ly an over­grown hedgerow of inva­sive plants.

It’s amaz­ing to see what that space has become today. Incred­i­ble,” Fred said, thank­ing the many instru­men­tal volunteers.

You can nev­er under­es­ti­mate the pow­er of a hand­ful of ded­i­cat­ed peo­ple to real­ly make a big dif­fer­ence in the world, and this is a liv­ing exam­ple of that. So thank you all.” 

Vis­i­tors can enjoy the Shan­ti Vun Med­i­ta­tion Gar­den at the Lan­dis Arbore­tum 365 days a year from dawn until dusk.

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Fall 2022

Volume 40 , Number 3

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