Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

35th Anniversary Festival

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

We had a three day festival celebrating the installation of the deities here at New Varshan Dhama – Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai and Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani’s 30th anniversary, and Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari’s 35th anniversary.  The first day of the celebration was in honor of Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai and we all the good fortune of bathing Their Lordships.  HH Devamrita Maharaja spoke from the Sri Caitanya Caritamrita and led an ecstatic Gaura arati kirtan.  Many devotees gathered from far and wide and the mood was very sweet.  HG Bada-Hari prabhu led the devotees in the chanting of sweet bhajans for the pleasure of the Lords.

Beautiful Radha-Giridhari during Their puspa abishek (flower petal bathing)

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Govardhana Puja in Cape Town

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Nitai and Tamalini assembled Govardhana Hill this year.  They had a brilliant plan to roll the halava into balls and dip them into carob. 

We made flowers, birds, trees, butterflies, parikrama footprints and pretty lotus kunds (thanks to Sharmila) to decorate the Hill. 

Suvarna Manjari made a giant hariball Govardhana Sila and I got to make Srimati Radharani.  The carob wouldn’t melt properly to coat Her in carob so I had to use gold dust instead (how appropriate). 

The festival was very enlivening.  Everyone was in a blissful mood.  Matthew’s T-shirt sums it up:

I love this picture of Suvarna Manjari… She is so bright – like a star.  She always brings more life to the party.

Three years ago on Govardhana Puja day Ivan was born – little Goavrdhana monkey.  He bounced around in the tree throughout most of the program.

The last big festival with my very dear friends for quite some time.  Soon I’ll be off to New Zealand… a new chapter in the Hare Krishna adventure.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Vyasa Puja – Srila Jayapataka Swami

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Today we celebrated the appearance day of my spiritual master, HH Jayapataka Swami. The actual day for this, according to the Vedic calendar, was on Thursday the 29th of March, but it was not practical to celebrate it on that day, so I observed the fast and celebrated today.

The feast consisted of spiced rice, yellow moong dahl with fennel, cumin and ginger, spinach with curd cheese, a South-Indian style vegetable dish with greenbeans, zucchini and potato cooked in ghee with spices, coconut and sesame seeds, South Indian carrot salad, Dokla, Camphor and Pure Rose sweet rice, a beautifully decorated pecan and date cake, burfi and also some smaller preps – rich butternut soup and several savoury dishes as well as coconut fudge. The drink was a refreshing berry and whey combination.

It was non-stop activity from early morning till just now about 10:30pm. Somehow everything came together nicely. I felt so happy to be engaged the whole day solely in the service of my spiritual master. Everything was for him and I realized – this is how it always is, or should be – whatever I do, whenever, is a direct service to him. I was organizing the whole event (I’m one of only 2 disciples here in Cape Town, and the only one in the centre) so I had to run around co-ordinating things, making sure everyone had what they needed and was happy and comfortable in their service and also doing my share of the cooking, serving, singing, dancing, feasting and cleaning. It was pretty intense, but in a very nice way. I felt completely content and peaceful and very very happy. Serving the spiritual master is the highest type of bliss. Somehow, I was not concerned with myself so much, rather the mood was to serve and to facilitate others in their service. After everyone was satisfied I had some Prasadam and started washing up and scrubbing a mountain of pots, it was getting late, but it felt like this was part of the offering; wrapping everything up and making it complete. Somehow, by the mercy of my spiritual master, I was able to engage in his service in a joyful mood, forgetting myself for a rare few hours and experiencing some very nice realizations. I pray that I may be able to taste this kind of experience again, cultivate this mood and eventually function like this daily. Actually, being selfless gives much higher pleasure than attempting to arrange things for one’s own comfort and enjoyment.

Pretty soon we’ll be visitng Durban for the annual Ratha Yatra festival there. This is perhaps one of the biggest Ratha Yatra festivals in the world and the highlight of the year for the South African devotees. During this time we get to connect again with our very dear friends from other temples in the country. We also get to relish the association of about 10 to 15 Sanyassis, see the beautiful Sri Sri Jagganatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani in Their chariot procession accompanied by the ecstatic singing and dancing of hundreds of devotees along the Durban beachfront. Morning program in Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple of Understanding (words can’t describe this place). Best of all – I’ll be seeing my spiritual master again, after a year of service in seperation.

It’s been a while…

Monday, March 5th, 2007

with all the festivals and other projects our small but enthusiastic team took upon ourselves, correspondence has been somewhat limited. So much has happened…

The last day of the Maynardville festival fell on Gaura Purnima. Krishna’s Village of Peace supplied a wonderful selection of vegetarian delights as well as gifts, books, gopi dots and henna designs. Best of all (in my opinion) was the continuous live bhajans. We had a little stage and sound system in our tent. The last night the rain was pouring down outside and people were pouring into our little village. From the stage I observed how the Mahamantra pacified the hearts of the public – everyone seemed drawn into the sweet syllables of the Holy Name. I could not drag myself away – remaining on the stage as the musicians rotated, I felt like I had been given a rare opportunity to connect with the Holy Names. Just that morning I had prayed to Lord Gauranga to allow me to chant always and also to let me realize the happiness of devotional service again (I had been feeling a little overwhelmed by everything recently). The bhajans just flowed on, becoming sweeter and sweeter. I felt such great happiness as I sat there singing, realizing how much had happened since last Gaura Purnima in Port Elizabeth, realizing how grateful I am to be here and take part in this amazing process and how all the difficulties and obstacles had been Mahaprabhu’s special mercy to increase my devotion to Him. It also struck me that Krishna very kindly reciprocates with anyone who tries to turn to Him. He is just waiting for us to turn our attention towards Him. All He wants is our love.

Acutally, I realized that all anyone ever wants is love. Love is all that is expected from me and that is the hardest to give.

The Gaura Purnima celebrations happened on Sunday. Today is a day for rest and recovery.

Festival of Chariots – Cape Town

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

It finally happened! (and I finally got around to posting something) The very first Ratha Yatra festival in the Mothercity.

some of the great personalities present included HDG Srila Prabhupada, HH Bhakti Caitanya Swami, HH Indradyumna Swami and HH Kadamba Kanana Swami.

I was fully engaged in the overcrowded Henna tent so Krishna Bhamini kindly agreed to take the photographs. I did sneak out for a few moments to pull Their Lordships’ chariot.

Sri Sri Nitai Mayapurcandra visited the book tent.

Suvarna and Luigi in action…

Behind the scenes…

Puppet Show

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Luigi and Suvarna Manjari will be presenting their transcendental puppet shows at the Ratha Yatra festival later this month. They gave us a little taste of things to come at the Sunday program this afternoon. Luigi made the stage and puppets. We think it’s pretty amazing.

Sri Krishna
Sri Krishna

Srimati Radharani and the messenger bee

Divine puppets
divine puppets

Janmastami Celebration

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

Flower shopping on Tuesday…

I had the good fortune of assisting Suvarna Manjari in the Pujari department on Wednesday morning. The rest of the day was dedicated to preparing a variety of dishes for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. Altogether we offered 149 preparations to the Lord.

Sri Sri Nitai Mayapurcandra looked lovely.

this picture was taken just before greetings, before Their Lordships went back to Their altar.

morning kirtan

At the evening program, we performed a play about the appearance of Lord Krishna (I couldn’t take pictures as I was acting in it as mother Bhumi). It was directed by Vraja Krishna prabhu and the audience seemed very pleased – bhakta Suell gave a particularly convincing portrayal of Kamsa and the audience loved the gopas – bhakta April and bhakta Jerry. Bhaktin Marie played mother Devaki. Of course there were many devotees acting wonderfully, but these are just some of the highlights.

Also, Vraja Krishna prabhu performed some beautiful songs with his friends and later more devotees joined him to do a hip hop song in glorification of Krishna. I really enjoyed this – the music was good – it sounded nice, different devotees sang or rapped parts that they had written themselves. Two very young bhaktas produced the sound effects amazingly accurately. Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of the performance of the last song.

We ended the evening with a blisfull kirtan – the temple room was packed but somehow we managed to dance ecstatically and afterwards a lovely feast was served to the devotees.