What a time we had! Jay Prabhu was commenting a few hours back at noon prasadam time how fast the past 4 days went. If I may so use the material way of describing the days, then it would be, “Rocking!”
More photos: will post soon in a day or two.
I stepped into the temple at 4:30pm on Friday, 21 March. It took many of us only a few seconds to sway to the tunes of the lovely kirtan led by the ever energetic Annirudha Prabhu (Melbourne Temple President). By this time, the temple room was already choc-a-bloc of devotees, first time visitors and well-wishers. One could genuinely see the enthusiasm on every ones face and the whole temple complex wore a carnival look.
The Gaura Nitai deities looked truly wonderful in their colourful garments, garlands and earrings glittering in the bright light. I overheard many people also commenting that the Jaganatha deities looked wonderful on the day. In fact, I thought so too. They had some beautiful head gears.
Once the kirtan finished, Annirudha Prabhu guided all of us to attend the fire ceremony at the prasadam hall. I am sure that many in the room heard only the “prasadam” part and soon there was a rush to the top floor. Unfortunately, many learnt later on that they would have to watch the fire ritual for a while, inhale some smoke and a lecture before they could make a bee-line for the feast which they had heard so much about.
I truly enjoyed the fire ceremony. The pujari who did it was so committed to the process. I apologise but I can’t recollect his name at the moment. He arranged the area of the ritual so beautifully with flowers, coconuts, pineapples, apples, banana leaves etc. There was plenty of rice, some twigs for burning and a bowl of golden ghee. His pronunciation of the Sanskrit mantras sounded perfect and he held everyone’s attention till the last minute. His Holiness Bhanu Swami was also seated next to the pujari. Seated next to them was Annirudha Prabhu along with Uddhava and Adam Prabhu leading a nice but very quiet kirtan throughout the entire ceremonial process.
Once the ritual was over, a seat was set up for His Holiness Devamrta Swami. He made his nice, slow walk to the seat to deliver one of the most thrilling lectures I have ever heard. Basically, he spoke about the importance of Gaura Purnima and the magnanimous nature of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He said that in today’s economic world, businesses in general are fond of giving free things to entice customers to buy something which they really don’t need. But because people also like to accept things that come free, they end up buying the product which is of no use to them. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the world something that is of greatest need to the people, the greatest necessity for a troubled world – the art of loving Krishna. And it’s all free. People over time have forgotten this need and have been suffering immensely without a solution for a long time. Sri Krishna as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed people how they can lead a glorious life by remembering Sri Krishna.
What I remember most about this hour in the day was the intensity with which HH Devamrta Swami spoke which truly captured everyone’s emotions. Once the lecture ended, there was a good silence before people slowly raised to their feet, thinking about what he had said. Perhaps, this lecture will be put up on the ISKCON Melbourne site for all of you to hear.
Feast time!!! I was about to bullet to the prasadam hall when Kripa Sindhu Prabhu stopped me in my tracks and said he needed me to do some service. First, I was to bring the prasadam buckets to the room and then once set up, I was to serve as well. I was delighted. Easy. Along with other devotees, we quickly ran to the kitchen, picked the heavy food buckets, swam through the thronging crowds, trekked up the stair case and placed them on to the tables. We did this 4 times! This is equal to a months work out, I think. In fact, it’s better than swimming. A devotee uses all his muscles carrying the prasadam buckets up and down. And it makes you hungrier too. But I have to serve which means delayed dinner. I was slightly devastated but I rarely get this opportunity so better make the best use of it. After some minor confusion, the tsunami of waiting diners started. Just when I was about to start serving, a mataji requested if she could do some service. So I gladly took a step back and offered by job. Sacrifice I tell you. I stood there for a while before moving down to the temple room.
By the time, I made my way back to the prasadam hall, I had already mediated on the next days breakfast and lunch prasadam on the card board plates. There were only a few items remaining but I couldn’t care less. It was finger licking’ good! Honestly, I can’t remember what I had. Once done, I helped in some crowd management at the prasadam hall before retiring to the temple hall again. This time there was another beautiful kirtan. And the temple room was packed again and we were singing, jumping, dancing and clapping. I lost my voice by the end of the night.
By the time, I stepped out of the temple, it was 10pm. That’s when I realized that in the midst of all the activities, I had genuinely forgotten to offer a nice prayer to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on His appearance day. I had wanted to wish Him a very happy birthday and thank Him for all the guidance He has been offering me over the months. It also dawned on me that I did not get any gifts, flowers or fruits to present Him with. I went home very sad at my actions and chastised myself for being so ignorant.
Next morning, as I walked to the temple, Bhakta Pete crossed by path as he was just about to leave the temple on his bike. Bhakta Pete by the way has the best hand writing in the universe. Right up to Brahma loka, he has no competition. I shall put a photo of his writing sometime soon. Anyways, as he was leaving, he said, “Prabhu, please have this garland. It was on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu yesterday. You can have it. Hari Bol!” And he rode away.
I stood there with this long garland in my hand, immediately thinking about my sad state of mind the previous night and recollecting the forgiving and magnanimous nature of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which HH Devamrta Swami had spoken about.
Hari Bol ! Hari Hari Bol !
May everyday be a Gaura Purnima day.