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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