MEHER BABA had promised Ramakrishnan to bless the Poona Center when the building work was completed, and directed him to arrange the inauguration in a simple and quiet manner because of his seclusion. The meeting hall being built could comfortably accommodate seven hundred people, and bathrooms and toilets were also provided, as well as an office and a room for Baba to rest in. The work was finished and all arrangements for its opening done.
On Friday, May 1st, 1964, for the first time since his arrival in Poona that summer (other than going to the doctor’s office), Baba stepped out of the confines of Guruprasad and was driven to the Avatar Meher Baba Poona Center at 441/1 Somwar Peth. Because of his strict seclusion and the consequent ban on all programs and darshan, no public celebration was permitted by him. Only close lovers and their families were invited. But they, in turn, brought relatives and friends, so the number increased to more than five hundred people.
Meherjee’s daughter, Perin, drove Baba and the mandali to the Center, where they arrived at 8:55 A.M. The assembly of lovers heartily hailed Baba as his car reached the gate. The car was driven to the veranda outside the main hall, which was decorated with Baba’s seven colors as depicted in his flag. As soon as Baba stepped out of the car, the president of the Center, Sadashiv Patel, garlanded him. With a smile, Baba embraced him and then approached the door of the hall, where Meherjee presented him with a tray containing scissors and the key. Taking the scissors, Baba cut the seven-colored ribbon fastened across the doorway and then unlocked the door with the key.
Baba walked into the main hall, followed by the Center’s seven trustees and the photographer Bhikhubhai. Tender flower petals were strewn on the carpeted pathway from the doorstep to the stage where Baba’s chair had been placed. It was a cushioned armchair specially built for the occasion. Upon entering the hall, Baba looked all around and praised the framed photographs of him that adorned the walls, depicting the various aspects of his life and work. Bhikhubhai had presented them to the Center, and Baba asked him to take his photograph. Baba’s brother Beheram and Jehangu took a film of the proceedings.
As soon as Baba was seated, Adi unfurled the seven-colored Baba flag from the ceiling of the main hall. Then the lovers waiting outside filed into the hall and took their seats. When the hall was full, seven children stepped out of a small side room, singing a song of welcome to the Avatar. Each child held a garland of one of the seven colors of Baba’s flag. One by one the children placed the garlands around Baba’s neck and then expressed the pleasure of all Poona lovers by singing and dancing before him, as they were lucky to have been favored with Baba’s presence. From the glowing smile on his face, it was obvious that Baba was happy at the welcome. He praised the children and extolled the efforts of Madhusudan, who had trained them the past several days. The Poona mandali group then sang bhajans and the songs Madhusudan specially composed for the inaugurations of the Centers: Meher Dham in Nauranga, Mehersthan in Kovvur, and Meher Dham in Dehra Dun, as well as another one he had written for this occasion.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 18, pp. 6248 – 6252.