Portugal - Holy town of Fátima and some thoughts about being vegetarian
Having a flight early morning back to Lisbon, we were ready for our next destination: Fatima in central Portugal. At the airport we waited for 2 friends who arrived a bit later from the Azores and together we rented a car and drove to Fatima. It was an easy drive on the highway for about 1 hour.
Why did we go to Fátima? Well, this is one of the holiest places in Europe and our spiritual master was giving 2 darshans there - and this just 4 days prior to the 100-years celebration of the Marian Apparition on the 13 may 1017. For those of you interested, a little bit of the story behind that:
Since the early 20th century, Fátima has been associated with events in which three local children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, saw visions of a woman known as Our Lady of Fátima, since believed to be the Virgin Mary. On 13 may 1917, whilst guarding their families' sheep in the Cova da Iria, the children first saw an apparition of a "lady dressed in white" and shining with a bright light. The children saw the Marian apparition on six occasions; they said the last would be 13 october 1917. An estimated 70,000 pilgrims went to the site for the last prophesied apparition in October. Some of them reported what has been referred to as the Miracle of the Sun, when some observers reported it appeared to be behaving unusually.
So arriving in Fátima, we had to search our hotel which was an easy task. The town's main business is religious tourism, so the hotels are all well signed. Finding a parking space was a bit more of a challenge. Already, in preperation of the 100-years-celebration in the arrival of the Pope hordes a tourist groups and individual people from all around the world had already arrived in town. Different groups were dressed similar and always wore buttons from the country/city. Like this it was easy to tell that even from some african countries (mainly West Africa) pilgrims already had arrived. It was a hustly and bustly all around the main square and the surrounding streets. Well, and our hotel was in one of the surrounding streets.
But we were very happy with our choice. We had a quiet room, brand new and nicely clean. Nothing to complain about that. Darshan with Paramahamsa Vishwananda in Fátima is very special. On saturday, we estimated about 2000 people coming to Darshan. It started at 12 at noon at lasted till 1 am in the morning. Paramahamsa Vishwananda did not leave his chair for even 1 second, he did not make a break but was constantly giving his blessings to the people. He took a few sips of water in between, but that was it for 13 hours non-stop. It was amazing to observe hin giving his love to everybody. We joined the darshan later, at around 6 pm as after the drive from Lisbon, we had to look for some food, get dressed and drive to the hall. But what a joy to meet some more friends from Portugal there! We stayed till the very end and talked to lots of people who had received the blessing for the first time and were really impressed.
The next morning we got up at around 9 am. Still the night was not too long. We went to a nearby café for a strong coffee. Breakfast for vegetarians was impossible - either sandwiches with ham or sweets with egg. So we had fruit and some müesli bars from home. It is strange for us to observe this phenomena. After having met our spiritual master we quickly understood the importance of being vegetarians. Eating meat means killing an animal - no matter if the animal was well kept before or not. The act of killing is crucial. This energy of killing is in the meat - that is a natural law. By eating meat, we automatically take in this energy. And how can mankind become peaceful and how can we have peace on earth when we have this "killing energy" inside of us? It is so easy to understand and for us it is shocking when religious people, who come to holy places, who believe in god and you pray for peace on earth eat meat. There is no medical reason for eating meat although media and doctors might tell this (there are enough proofs for that) - it is pure luxury and society habits. Do not get us wrong - everyone can eat what he/she wants. We do not judge eating habits. But if we want to have peace in the world, each individual must change something. And being vegetarian is one thing we can do (with the side effect of being healthier as well!). So, in a holy place like Fátima, sadly, we had to rely on our own supplies for food and fruit. Thankfully, the organizers of the darshan also had organised some great veg food! Great job guys!
The next darshan started the same day again at about 1 pm (and lasted till 2 am in the morning). Again, about 1000 people came to receive a blessing. Simply amazing. We were there the whole time and in the end, Paramahamsa Vishwananda sang amazing and powerful bhajans (spiritual songs) with us and he was dancing with us. It was amazing! After darshan, we went down to the sanctuary with our czech friends. The sanctuary where the Marian apparition took place 100 years ago is open day and night. It was such a magic atmosphere there in the middle of the night. There were the 4 of us and randomly 2 or 3 people walking across the huge square. It was peaceful and wonderful. We sat down to meditate a little bit, lit up some candle and just walked around taking in the atmosphere. A very special moment.
Back to the hotel, we had another short night. After a quick breakfast in the room, we walked to the sanctuary again at daylight. As it was monday, the major hordes of tourist were gone. Still it was quite busy on the square. We visited the basilica. Surprisingly for us, everything is really modern and we really liked it a lot. Before it was already time to leave Fátima behind us, we had some strong coffees to wake us up. Then we picked up our friends and off we went on the highway - direction north. Our destination: Porto.