By Mathura Lilesvari Devi Dasi
The Panihati Cidadahi festival is a yearly celebration of the pastimes of Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami and Lord Nityananda Prabhu. This astonishing pastime took place on the banks of the Ganges at Panihati Dham, which is just north of Calcutta. The festival remembers how the Lord mercifully reciprocated with His devotees by arranging, through Nityananda Prabhu and Raghunatha dasa, to provide an ecstatic feast of yoghurt and chipped rice, along with various other nectar foodstuffs. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada instructed his disciples to organize this chida-dadhi festival at Panihati and other places in the world. Sri Jagannatha Mandir, ISKCON Malaysia National Head Quarters celebrated the most auspicious Panihati Cidadahi festival on 31 May 2015. More than 200 devotees graced the festival.
Devotees were put into various teams and they were supposed to prepare their version of the cidadahi that would later be put into decorated pots and then auctioned. All funds raised for the action was offered to the medical service of His Holiness Srila Jayapataka Swami, ISKCON Malaysia Co GBC.
As early as 8am, the tables were setup at the foyer of the temple and participating team diligently spread their raw ingredients to begin the ‘ transcendental competition’. Recipes were given to all teams by the organizers. Team work was evident as we saw devotees divide the chores to finally come up with a delicious and beautiful offering to Their Lordships. It was informed to the participants well in advance to paint the pots with different pastimes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So various pastimes were displayed as drawings on the pots.
At sharp 9 am, all team of devotees were requested to stop decorating their pots of cidadahi. Some exquisite work was on display and the pots of cidadahi was transferred to the temple altar for offering. It was indeed a feast for the eyes to see the beautifully decorated pot in the altar for the pleasure of Their Lordships. The congregation gathered inside the temple hall to hear the sweet pastime of Raghunath Das Goswami and Sri Nityananda Prabhu in Panihati Dham. The descriptive lecture was given by HG Tyaga Caitanya Prabhu. Details of the pastimes were very well articulated and explained to the congregation. To further enhance the understanding of the pastime and to absorb in the mood of Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, a drama was performed depicting the pastime.
Soon after, the pots on cidadahi was removed from the altar and placed at the table in the foyer of the temple for judges to taste and evaluate. HG Tyaga Caitanya prabhu, HG Shanti Rupa mataji and HG Siddhi Sadhana Prabhu were aptly chosen as the judges. It was a wonderful experience to hear devotees explain the rationale behind the decoration of the pot. It must have been difficult to judge as all the preparations tasted heavenly and the pots were beautifully decorated.
But, in every competition there must be a winner. Everyone who participated has already won but just to increase the sweet interaction amongst devotees, three teams were chosen as the winner. The third place went to the Bhakti Vrksa team. They prepared two beautiful pots which had the pastimes of Panihatti festival and preaching. Second price went to the over enthusiastic, SJMKL Youth team, headed by HG Gadadhara Pandit Prabhu. They prepared two pots that was exceptionally decorated .The first price went to the Brahmacharis team who was headed by HG Siva Caitanya prabhu. Siva Caitanya prabhu has been single handedly preparing cidadahi for Their Lordships every Panihati festival all these years. It was a sweet victory and even sweeter was the exchanges between the devotees. it was a very light moment and to see devotees encourage and cheer for each other was soothing for the heart. It was truly a family like atmosphere.
The pots were then auctioned to the congregation. Many devotees expressed that it was a very blissful festival and they were meditating on Lord Nityananda prabhu as they were preparing the pots and hence it has helped them to increase their attachment to Lord Nityananda.
We pray to Lord Nityananda Prabhu to place His lotus feet upon our heads just as he did upon Raghunatha dasa’s head. We pray that all our impediments are removed and we can blissfully serve Sri Nitayananda Ram always.
tomāra kṛpā vinā keha ‘caitanya’ nā pāya
tumi kṛpā kaile tāṅre adhameha pāya
“No one can attain the shelter of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu without Your mercy, but if You are merciful, even the lowest of men can attain shelter at His lotus feet.
ayogya mui nivedana karite kari bhaya
more ‘caitanya’ deha’ gosāñi hañā sadaya
“Although I am unfit and greatly afraid to submit this plea, I nevertheless request You, Sir, to be especially merciful toward me by granting me shelter at the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.