Sri Krishna Janmastami Celebrations
On the most auspicious occasion of Sri Krishna Janmastami Mahotsav, a three-day celebration was held at the Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Ashram as follows:
Friday 26 August: From 6.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. (Prasad as from 7.30 p.m.)
Saturday 27 August: From 6.30 p.m. to midnight (then non-grain prasadam)
Sunday 28 August: Nandotsav and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj's Appearance: From 10.00 a.m. to noon followed by Arati and full prasadam.
The programme comprised of nectarean kirtans, speeches, glorification, discourses, Arati, plays, a devotional nrtya and sumptuous prasadam. Besides initiated devotees and their relatives, supporting members and members of the public were kindly invited to discover the hidden treasures of our Lord Sri Sri Guru Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha Rasabiharilal-jiu and taste the descriptions of Their nectarean, infinite, eternal Pastimes, and appreciate the Mahaprasadam.
Response of donations in form of foodstuffs, finance, and vegetables started reaching the Ashram several days preceding the festival. General cleaning of the Ashram and its compound by Prabhu Surya Krishna and Prabhu Krishna Dikshit, and decorations of the interior of the guest-hall was happily carried out by a group of well-motivated, sincere young devotees headed by Prabhu Yogesvara Krishna from the morning of the first day of the festival. On the frontages of the existing one-storeyed building, these cheerful looking devoted souls installed chase lights which clung from the roof to the edges. In the nights those colourful twinkling lights brought gaiety to the vicinity of the Ashram, adding to the auspiciousness of the festivities. The surroundings wore a festive mood, with devotees coming during the day for some seva and going away to re-appear in the early evening for bhoga preparations and programme.
Guests responded in a great number to our invitation on all the three days of the devotional gatherings; each day around five hundred persons attended. On the first day, that is on Friday 26 August, besides our usual Guru Arati, Guru and Mandir parikrama, Tulasi parikrama, Arati of Their Lordships Sri Sri Guru Gauranga and Sri Sri Radha Rasabiharilal-jiu, Guru Vandana and the evening kirtans, the devotees wholeheartedly sang several Vaisnava songs describing the lila of Sri Sri Radha Krishna. The altar and the Mandir compound had been beautifully decorated by our pujari, Prabhu Priya Krishna. The guests and devotees sat peacefully under the graceful glance of the Deities and Sri Guru-varga. Sripad Adhoksaja Prabhu Bhakti Bhusan affectionately addressed words of welcome to our honoured guests and delivered an inspiring speech, thereby mentioning the importance of the human form of life in the fulfillment of devotional service to the Lord and thus liberating ourselves from the jaws of repeated birth, old age, disease and death. He affirmed that we are most fortunate to have got our connection with Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga, and that we are trying our level best to satisfy our Guru Maharaj by preaching Mahaprabhu's message house to house, village to village, and using the donations from the preaching in the service of the Deities, thus benefiting the donors whose sukriti starts from that point. After offering of bhoga heart-satisfying prasadam was served to one and all down in the dinning hall again by the group of young devotees of Srila Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, while the glorifications and kirtans were still going on in front of their Lordships, the Deities upstairs.
A highly instructive sketch produced by Sri Paravidyanand Prabhu was then presented down in the hall. The play was staged by the young devotees of our 'Sri Guru Karuna Sindhu Group' of Ilot, of which Sri Paravidyanand Prabhu is the leader. It was about how a harebrained young student, not heeding his intelligence (buddhi), urged by his mind (mana), found himself entangled in today's deceitful politics which dragged him to Maya in the form of intoxication, leading to complete loss of intelligence leading to illicit connection with women. Fortunately he came across a group of devotees doing congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. They helped him not only regain his intelligence but come out of the clutches of Maya and become a devotee of Lord Krishna. After the drama, the guests were led upstairs to attend the Lord's Maha Arati which was to welcome Him for the next day - His divine Appearance Day.
On the second day of the festival, that is, Saturday 27 August, after the habitual devotional seva activities, Sripad Adhoksaja Prabhu Bhakti Bhusan delivered the message of Sri Krishna Janmastami. Afterwards Prabhu Shant Krishna made a brief speech on the most prominent verses of Bhagavad Gita - Chapter 18 verses 65 and 66: "Man mana bhava..." and "Sarva dharman parityajya...." Just after the speech our leader, Sripad Adhoksaja Prabhu-ji laid emphasis on these slokas, pointing out that the highest recommendation of Lord Krishna is found in them. Hence this instruction is the essence of the hidden treasure of the Sweet Absolute, he added. Sri Braja Sundara Prabhu also kindly conducted a brief class in the glorification of Sri Krishna.
Down in the hall preparation for two important items was going on; these items were to be presented shortly. The first one was a folk dance drama, depicting the Pastimes of Lord Krishna, by two devotee-children: a five year old boy named Chaitanya who was to play the part of Lord Murali-Manohar; and his elder sister, Diksha, who was to act as Srimati Radharani. The second item was a sketch by devotees of the new generation; they are Yogeshvara Das, Devesananda Das, Krishna Dikshit Das, Kshama Sundara Das, Shyam Krishna Das, Bhakta Uddhava, Krishna Das and his sister, Shyam Vandana Devi Dasi.
The respectful guests came down in the hall. No sooner had they been comfortably seated than they were enchanted by the nice rendering of the devotional nrtya by the two children whose hidden talents met with everyone's admiration and wonder. Then the children of Gurukula, one by one recited slokas before the audience. It was then the turn for the drama by the youngsters. It was based on an excerpt from the Guru Maharaj's book where the Pandavas performed a great yajna under the guidance of Lord Krishna. Prabhu Krishna Dikshit played the part of Lord Krishna, Prabhu Yogesvara, Prabhu Devesananda, Prabhu Kshama Sundara, Prabhu Shyam Krishna and Prabhu Krishna Das played the roles of the Pandavas, whereas Bhakta Uddhava acted as the pure devotee in this katha, and Shyam Vandana Devi Dasi played Draupadi. Lord Krishna said that if the yajna was successfully completed, a bell would automatically ring. The yajna was completed and every guest including highly respected Rishis and Munis were fed with prasadam. Nonetheless the bell did not ring. Then the Pandavas were told by the Lord that there was a great devotee down the street, who was incessantly taking the Lord's Names, and that they should fetch and feed him. The simply-dressed, hesitant devotee was brought there and fed, but still the bell did not ring. When the Lord was asked about the reason, He replied that there was someone who had thought ill of that great devotee who cared nothing but the service of the Lord. Draupadi quickly replied that she was the culprit, having under-estimated the devotee for the way he had mixed together all the nice preparations which she had made with great care.
Therefore they had to bring him once again and feed him offencelessly. They did the same and the bell started ringing with every morsel of the food which the devotee ate. Then the scene was filled with a sudden joyful atmosphere whereby "Jay Sri Krishna! Jay Sri Krishna! was heard.
It was already time for the grand Arati of the Lord, in honour of His Appearance. In the Mandir upstairs, amidst a huge throng, the Lord's Arati was gracefully performed by the pujari, while devotees sang and danced ecstatically to the tune of the Arati song and the rhythm of karatal and heart-touching madhura mridanga. Subsequently, the Lord was offered flowers, money-gifts and obeisances. In the end a light non-grain prasadam was served to all those present.
The third day's festivity, for Sri Nandotsav, was marked by various delicious preparations offered to the Lord and thereafter served plentifully to all. From the early morning, in the kitchen Didis and Prabhus under the kind guidance and with a firm helping hand of Prabhu Surya Krishna, Prabhu Haripad and Prabhu Dina Tarana, busied themselves with a long list of nice bhoga preparations. Our programme started sharp at 10.00 a.m. with Guru Vandana prayers then kirtans. At about eleven o'clock the guest hall annexing the Mandir was filled to its capacity. Sripad Adhoksaja Prabhu Bhakti Bhusan in his speech stressed on the superiority of human life over other species in the series of 8,400,000 species in all. Therefore we should not waste this golden opportunity, he emphasised, rather we should utilise our energy to re-establish our lost relationship with the Lord.
Afterwards, Prabhu Braja Sundara made a rousing speech in which he made a kind appeal for contributions for the completion of our Mandir complex. Eventually Guru Arati was performed, followed by the Bhoga offering. The Bhoga Arati kirtan was led by Prabhu Devesananda in his melodious, forceful voice and devotees danced in complete joy. Subsequently the noon Arati was attended to with equal fervour. Down in the prasadam hall everything had been set right for the serving of Mahaprasadam. As the guests made themselves comfortable on the floor mats and chairs, the well motivated devoted youngsters of our Vaisnava family, without any loss of time, started to serve the Mahaprasadam.
This three-day Sri Krishna Janmastami celebration was one of the numerous nourishing and enriching occasions for the local devotees and all those who attended.
Shanta Krishna Das
6 September 2005
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
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