Sri Holiotsava, Sri Gaur Purnima Mahotsav
(at ISKCON Baroda) By Basu Ghosh Das
Pictures of the festival posted on the internet at:
On March 10 & 11, 2009, both considered the full moon days in the month of falgun, the ‚ÄúHoliotsava‚ÄĚ (festival of ‚Äúholi‚ÄĚ) and Sri Gaur Purnima, the 523 annual appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were observed by huge crowds who gathered at ISKCON Baroda.
The ancient ‚Äúholi‚ÄĚ festival, where an effigy of Holika is burnt, was observed by a small gathering on the night of March 10. The tradition is that a small puja is performed to the effigy of Holika.
One explanation of the holi festival can be found on the internet: http://www.holifestival.org/history-of-holi.html. There are other places on the internet that describe the holi festival as well.
The next day, March 11, 2009, was observed as Sri Gaur Purnima. A large group of devotees gathered in the morning for the ‚Äúdarshan arati‚ÄĚ, to see the new dress for Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaur Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar and Sri Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadradevi.
The Deities in Their new dress were exquisitely decorated with flowers, garlands, fruits, etc. Extra ‚Äúdias‚ÄĚ (engraved decorative brass oil lamps) were kept in front of the Deities, all the while lit up.
His Holiness Bhakti Vikas Swami, who was camped at ISKCON Baroda for two weeks prior to Gaur Purnima, held several ‚ÄúGaur kirtan‚ÄĚ sessions, beginning in the morning, and sang many poems written by the Gaudiya Vaishnav acharyas in glorification of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
In the evening, at 6:15 PM, the panchamrita abhishek (‚Äúbathing ceremony‚ÄĚ with five nectars) of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai was performed by H. H. Bhakti Vikas Maharaj and the temple pujaris, while sankirtan was performed continuously by temple devotees, congregational devotees and eager onlookers. Thereafter, at 7:00 PM, the sandhya arati was held. Thousands of devotees - citizens of Baroda - began to pour into the temple for holy darshan of (to see) Their Lordships.
Prasad distribution then began on a massive scale, and we estimate that over ten thousand people were served with prasad plates. Each visitor was given a plate of prasad consisting of rice, mung bean soup, subji (spiced vegetable preparation) and ‚Äúlapsi‚ÄĚ (Gujarati for ‚Äúsweet cracked wheat‚ÄĚ).
For donors, life members and various social leaders, in the basement below the temple, prasad was served with three additional preparations: kadi, spiced chenna (chickpeas) and puris.
The IYF (ISKCON Youth Forum) devotees manned three book tables, just outside the temple room in the temple compound, and IYF leader, Dr. Damodar Chaitanya Das, presented a powerpoint presentation on the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness on a large screen set up in the garden, in front of the temple.
Some of the prominent social leaders who visited the temple at this time were Sri Bhupendra Lakhawala, City member of the Gujarat legislative assembly (MLA) and also President of the Baroda City BJP (the ‚ÄúHindu Nationalist‚ÄĚ party that rules Gujarat state), Sri Jitendra Sukhadia, our area MLA, Sri Ashwini Kumar Sharma, Additional Municipal Commissioner, Sri Agarwalji, Inspector General of Police, Baroda Rural, Sri Naranbhai Patel, Chairman, Narmada Nigam (Narmada River Irrigation Scheme), Sri Narayanbhai Shah, Chief of the City Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sri Sheth, the new City President of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Sri Chiragbhai Jhaveri, leader of the Opposition (Congress Party) in the Baroda Municipal Corporation, a number of Municipal Corporators (locally elected representatives including Sri Chiragbhai Barot, BMC Standing Committee member, and a number of community business leaders, donors, etc. The burning of ‚ÄúHolika‚ÄĚ, the new dress and exquisite decoration of the Deities at ISKCON Baroda, the abhishek of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai by H.H. Bhakti Vikas Swami and ISKCON Baroda pujaris, the huge crowds gathered in the temple and in the temple compound, the long queue of people waiting for prasad, prasad service by ISKCON Baroda ‚Äúparam sevika‚ÄĚ (outstanding servant) Smt. Kantadevi Shivlal Goyal and her children, and scenes of the prasad for life members, etc., can be seen in the pictures.
Very special thanks to all of the donors, without whose help and sponsorship, the massive prasad distribution would not have been possible.
Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu avirbhav Sri Gaur Purnima Mahotsav ki jaya!