HOPE — It all started with a brief conversation in the parking lot of a Schoharie County grocery store about three years ago.
Vijaya Luxmi had for years battalion around the idea of developing a public meditation garden to honor her deceased parents who lived in India, originally introducing the concept to the village of Cobleskill, where she lives and operates a small business, Vijaya’s Clothing Boutique.
The garden was eventually built, but was eventually removed by the village soon after, devastating Luxmi, who said she wanted to create a peaceful place where she could reflect on the memory of her parents while providing young people with the region a place to focus on their mental health. health through meditation.
“I didn’t want to give up,” she said.
Luxmi described her father as an “industrialist” who worked in the steel industry and traveled the world, while her mother took care of things at home. The couple, who died in 2006, raised their children to be “farsighted”, Luxmi said.
“We were raised more as leaders,” she said. “For me, it’s my nature.”
Shortly after the original garden was removed, Luxmi spotted her friend, Anne Donnelly, walking through the parking lot of a nearby Price Chopper and pitched the idea of building the garden at Landis Arboretum, where Donnelly is the coordinator. volunteers.
The two then met for tea to further discuss the idea. Shortly after, a group of volunteers were working alongside arboretum staff to clear a series of overgrown hedges a short walk from the Lape Road entrance to the reserve to make way for the garden.
“I thought it would be something small, like the size of a picnic table,” Donnelly said.
But the project, carried out in three distinct phases, took around three years and involved dozens of community members, who bought into the concept.
Floyd Guernsey, owner of Schoharie nursery in Guernsey, has installed a small pond with a tranquil waterfall and various hedges. An Amish-built canopy has been set up with a pair of rockeries, where local writing groups gather and individuals sit to meditate.
On Sunday, a small dedication took place officially acknowledging the Shanti Vun Meditation Garden, reducing Luxmi to tears of joy.
“A jungle here has turned into a habitat that everyone can enjoy,” she said, flanked by her two sisters, Indira Gupta and Anoopa Prasad, who traveled from India for the dedication.
About three dozen people were on hand for the event, which included musical performances and short remarks thanking volunteers for their efforts.
Luxmi and her sisters, meanwhile, said the meditation garden was the perfect tribute to their parents.
“What they did, I would love to do,” Luxmi said. “I want to see the Shanti Vun Meditation Garden as a place of peace, encounter and happiness.”
Jim Paley, chairman of the Landis Arboretum board, said the garden has become exactly that since it opened last year.
Members of the community regularly use the facility for meditation, and many groups hold events there. The garden has also hosted several weddings, Paley said.
“It’s a magnet,” he said. “When we have our factory sales or people come here, they come here. It attracts people. »
Fred Breglia, director of Arboretum Landis, agreed, adding that the garden is an example of the good that can come when a community comes together.
“We have a living example here that with dedication, hard work and a no-give-up attitude, you can accomplish anything,” he said. “Never underestimate a small group of people to make a change.”
Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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