By Basu Ghosh Das
Pictures on the internet of the program: http://tinyurl.com/cl3mkah
Also on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/ce4crpb
On Friday, August 10, 2012, ISKCON Baroda observed the annual Sri Krishna Janmastami festival in grand style!
An estimated lakh of people (100,000) visited the Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar Mandir at Hare Krishna Land, Baroda, on Sri Krishna Janmastami day. The six-acre Hare Krishna Land compound here was decorated profusely with banana trees, flowerpots, and flowers, placed at various places. The temple room and Deity altars were decorated with intricate flower garlands, and flower and leaf decorations.
ISKCON IYF, congregational, and Bhakti Vriksha devotees distributed books, conducted seminars, conducted japa chanting sessions, from booths erected on the side of the exit road, leading from the temple to the main road, outside the temple compound.
Continuous hari nam kirtan was conducted by various devotees throughout the day and night in the temple room.
Inside the temple, as local devotees in large numbers came through the crowd control directed pathway for Deity darshan, laddu prasad was sold large quantities.
Throughout the day, just outside the temple, on the “exit path”, bananas, peda (sweet) and panjiri prasad, was distributed free to all the visitors to the temple.
Phalaahaari (non-grain) prasad was sold in the Govinda’s “Gujarati thali”
(Gujarati style plate meal) Restaurant. At the Govinda’s snack bar, located below Govinda’s restaurant (on the ground level) various phalaaphaari snacks and limited phalaahaari plates of prasad were sold in large quantities. The regular temple gift shop did a very good business as well!
Several prominent members of Baroda society visited the temple for darshan of Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar, Sri Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadradevi and Sri Sri Gaur Nitai.
His Holiness Vallabhacharya Goswami Dwarakeshlalji, probably the most famous prominent Vaishnav leader in Baroda, came for darshan. He performed arati to Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar. He arrived just as the Honorable Mayor of Baroda, Smt. Dr. Jyotiben Pandya, was having darshan of the Deities! Dwarakeshlalji, Mayor Jyotiben Pandya, and former Mayor Sri Shabadasharan Brahmbhatt, all sat together for sometime, in our VIP reception room. Dwarakeshlalji had just returned to Baroda on Janmastami morning from attending a “World Peace conference” at Hiroshima, Japan, and despite fatigue, decided to accept our invitation visit ISKCON Baroda. Taking the opportunity I showed him pictures of my recent visit to Eastern Europe, including photos of Jagannath Rathayatra at Budapest, and Berlin. After he departed, the Member of Parliament from Baroda, Sri Balkrishna
(Baalu) Shukla (BJP), came for darshan and took phalaahaari prasad in the VIP reception room.
Thereafter, District Collector and District Magistrate, Sri Vinod Rao, IAS, along with his wife, son and parents, also came for darshan and took phalaahaari prasad.
At midnight, just at the abhishek of the Deities was about to begin, Baroda City Police Commissioner , Sri Satish Sharma, IPS, along with his family, took places just in front of the Deities and witnessed the abhishek ceremony.
The temple room here was packed to capacity at midnight and crowd control was not an easy task!
Many other prominent leaders of society visited ISKCON Baroda on Krishna Janmastami for Deity darshan. Gujarat Government Minister of State for Tourism, Supply (and several other departments), Sri Jitubhai Sukhadiya (who is our local MLA - Member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly), as well as many local municipal councilors, from both BJP and Congress parties, visited.
Midnight panchamrita abhishek was performed by Murlimohan Prabhu, co-Temple President of ISKCON Vijayawada, myself, and the ISKCON Baroda pujari staff. Chappanbhog (56 items — a traditional term — but more items were offered) was offered to Their Lordships just before the midnight arati.
The next day, both Nandotsav and Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasapuja were observed. ISKCON life patron members and their families - approximately five thousand persons — were served prasad in the afternoon. In the evening, there was an “open bhandara” during which prasad for 30,000 was prepared and served.
Puris, mixed subji, chole (chick peas), kadi, rice, phulwadi
(savory/”namkeen” made from chickpea flour and spices) and halawa were served to all.
Rain that began to fall during the day on Saturday, August 11, did not dampen the spirits of the visiting devotees who turned up in large numbers to take the “bhandara” prasad! However, we had to cancel the planned cultural program due to the rain.
This year, before Janmastami, there was scant rain in Gujarat, but since Janmastami day, it has been raining incessantly, we are glad to report, thus officially ending a drought that was going to severely affect the population here.
Thanks to Sriman Nityananda Ram Das, ISKCON Baroda Vice President, the team of devotee sevaks, Bhakta Shivalal Goyal, and many other devotees and donors too numerous to mention here for services rendered towards making the Sri Krishna Janmastami festival at ISKCON Baroda a grand success!