By Yogesvara Gopinath das and Nikunja Sakhi Devi Dasi
Lord Krishna shows His supreme mercy, where it is really required and it is visible in the most auspicious Damodar month. A group of devotees visited the Church in the Republic of Congo to give the mercy of Lord Damodar to the local Congolese people on the day of Diwali!!
We were quite surprised by the mood and all arrangements of the church people. They were so nicely organized in each and every aspect. When we entered with Lord Damodar and Srila Prabhupada, the entire crowd of 600 people stood up.. singing their welcome song in an amazing African style with wonderful music going on!! I was literally moved by this type of reception and of course, I never expected this thing especially in Africa for sure!!
They had nicely organized the table in the front and nearly 6-7 African ladies were ready for our help in preparing for the big aarti of Lord Damodar!! We set up the table with the deity of Srila Prabhupada, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai (Happy dolls) and Yashoda Damodar in different baskets. We had a big framed photo of Yashoda Damodar as well.
Then we went backstage where 6-7 African ladies were ready to help us putting all ghee lamps in big trays and 600 fruits were also nicely placed in the trays too. It was so nice to see those ladies engaging in the devotional service. None of them could speak English but the mood was so nice that they were getting all the instructions. However, the appointed manager was explaining everything in French too as he could speak both English and French.
The Head of Church, Papa Yedeva was nicely welcomed at the starting of the program. When I looked properly at his dress, I realized it looked like Indian Shervani, so we asked Om Prabhu, his dress looked like Indian dress.. then Om Prabhu told us that this is not an ordinary dress but the Mahaprasad of Sri Sri Radha Rasabihariji from ISKCON Juhu temple. We were stunned!!! Actually Om Prabhu offered that dress to Radha Rasbihari and brought for Papa Yedeva to wear on this special day. Anyway, after finishing of the welcome ceremony, he was seated on the main seat on the stage with two other pastures.
After settling in, something amazing happened; they started playing a Hindi Song .. Jadunagari se aaya hai Jadugar… we were quite surprised as surely the African people may not understand this language but they were very nicely enjoying it. In the church, everyone was so disciplined and following their customs very seriously.
At 10.30am it was our turn to start the Damodar program. HH Bhakti Carudesna Maharaja was introduced to the crowd and he spoke briefly about Krishna consciousness and started Kirtan with Prabhupada Pranam mantra. He picked up in the kirtan slowly and went into complete ecstasy of Harinaam.. we started moving in the whole church and getting people with us singing and dancing. It was really unbelievable and completely ecstatic! All African people were immersed in the chanting of the Holy name. The music band was also playing all the instruments very nicely.
Towards the end Maharaja went in the middle of the church hall and he was at the best of singing the Holy name.. it was a complete ecstasy.. the feeling of the spiritual world. Everyone was jumping and singing at the top of their voice. Lord Caitanya has predicted that every town and village the holy name will be sung and the prediction we can see coming true. It is Srila Prabhupada who really fulfilled the mission of Lord Caitanya as perfect commander in chief!
After finishing off the Kirtan Maharaja gave a talk on Krishna Consciousness in French language. He spoke of the special month, benefits of this month, Srila Prabhupada and his teachings, four regulative principles. The real issue of this country is people don’t follow regulative principles as they are so much deep into meat-eating and alcohol consumption. But Maharaja boldly spoke about the principles and Papa Yedeva also looked favorable of this talk. Maharaja thanked Papa Yedeva for giving this wonderful opportunity and prayed for good health by chanting three times the Ugram Viram mantra. Maharaja connected Papa Yedeva’s names with Krishna’s Yadu Dynasty, a Yadava. Papa Yedeva seemed very happy about it.
After Maharaja’s talk Papa Yedeva gave a talk and surprisingly he quoted few verses of Bhagavad-gita in his speech. He spoke on eating habits for human beings and offering to Krishna. He confirmed the supremacy of Lord Krishna also. Towards the end of his speech, he mentioned that he is building a Church in the outskirt of the city and planning to keep a deity of Lord Krishna also so African people can be introduced to Krishna Consciousness. This seems to be a big milestone as at the moment practically there is no presence of Krishna Consciousness in the country.
We thanked Papa Yedeva and started doing Damodarastakam and everyone made nice lines in a proper disciplined way. There were 3 ladies giving water acamana and 3 ladies were giving the lamps to everyone. It was a very nice ceremony where they were offering lamps to Lord Damodar so sincerely and full of heart. It was very inspiring to see that they were offering the lamp with 7 circles and full of enthusiasm. African people are really pure from their heart and can follow the right guidance to get the real nectar of Krishna Consciousness.
After finishing off the Damodar aarti, Maharaja distributed the fruit prasadam to all participants and they were very happy to get prasadam and honored it straight away without wasting time.
After distributing the fruit prasadam, we set up a book table outside with all French books and Yugal Kishore prabhu and Mahamantra prabhu did nice book distribution to all local Congolese people.
It was a great experience to do church program; may lord Damodar bless all of them with pure Krishna Bhakti and may they all get perfection of life by following Krishna Consciousness.
(Yogesvara Gopinath das and Nikunja Sakhi Devi Dasi)