At sharp 4:30 a.m. the conch shell blew first at the panca tattva hall and then at Sri Sri Radha Madhava hall. The gigantic curtains were slid and Srimati Radharani in her whitish complexion and Sri Madhav in his blackish complexion surrounded by asta sakhis – 8 principal gopis – appeared in front of us. They were colourfully dressed and decorated with flowers and ornaments. Sri Sri Radha Madhav with their big eyes were looking at us and seeing the temple hall which was filled by thousands of devotees had a broad smile on their lips. The pujari began the arati and one devotee started singing Sri Sri Gurvastakam prayer and other devotees repeated after him in rhythm. Pujari was very carefully worshipping the Lord. He first offered incense and then ghell lamp to the deities. After that the deities were bathed with scented water and then dried using a cloth. After this fresh colourful flowers were offered and at the last using a chamar the Lord was fanned.
Men and women, rich and poor, young and old, Indians and non Indians, so called upper caste and lower caste, Hindus and non Hindus all had congregated. They had forgotten their material designations and were together singing happily and loudly the prayers and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra from the core of their heart to please the Lord. Once the arati was completed the curtains of the altar of Sri Sri Radha Madhava were closed and simulatanesouly the curtain of the altar of Lord Narasimhadeva opened. The pujari whorshipped Nrsimhadeva and devotees sang Narsimha arati. After Narsimha arati there was tulasi arati followed by Sistastakam prayers followed by few announcements from the temple management.
The mats were then quickly spread in the temple hall and devotees sat together to chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Srila Prabhupada always advised to practice devotion in association. While chanting I observed that just by seeing the seriousess and enthusiasm of fellow devotees we too try to chant sincerely.
We had to leave for Lord Jagannath temple which is in Rajapur. This temple is very dear to me as I got married there. It is always a great privilege to take darshan of Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva and Subhadra Devi here because in front of them me and my wife took our marriage vows and it is because of their blessings are our marriage is successfully continuing.
This temple is also associated with many pastimes. Devotees performed 3 dramas here. I too participated, I was given the role of Lord Jagannath. It was a spontaneous drama, we prepared just 10 minutes before performing. One drama was about Lord Jagannath coming out of the altar, climbing the tree to eat jackfruit. Another was when Lord Baladeva slaps a person who was trying to steal ornaments of Lord Jagannath. The third drama was about a non Hindu girl who disrespectfully throws away Jagannath’s prasad. Later in the night she is punished by Baladeva and Subhadra. The girl is paralysed. The father of the girl comes in the morning carrying a basket of fruits to offer to Jagannath and wanted to take the prasad to give to her daughter. Devotees say that still the girl comes with her family members to take darshan of the Lord and she now respectfully takes prasad.
Drama was the best way to explain the pastime to the new devotees. We then left for Yogapitha, the birth place of Lord Chaitanya. After taking darshan we returned to Mayapur temple for breakfast prasadam. We then went to Gurukul to see how young children from different parts of the world stay together in a traditional environment to learn Vedic scriptures. In fact a separate article could be written on the Gurukul experience, I will try to write something about that experience.
Today evening in the temple there will be Krishna Conscious party on the eve of New Year which will go upto 12. I too hope to participate. But again I do not want to miss the morning Mangala Arati at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow.