By Devaki (dd) PVS (Ukraine/Bangladesh/Nepal)
Around six hundred practising devotees assembled on the 10th of April at Hare Krishna Dhama in order to participate in the first Bhakti Sangam festival in Nepal. Only devotees who are chanting a minimum of six rounds daily were allowed to join this confidential assembly of sadhu sanga, in order to ensure a minimal level of understanding and commitment to the process of devotional service. Devotees had come from the most hidden corners of the Himalayan country to join this three-day event at our beautiful property in Budhanilkanta, 12 km’s outside of Kathmandu city. Sri Sri Radha-Govinda-Hari, Sri Sri Gaur Nitai and Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra are the Lordships of the establishment, situated on the edge of the mountains and overseeing the valley towards Kathmandu. The holy river Visnumati is flowing through this beautiful property, which is further adorned with big rocks and trees giving it a special atmosphere and natural beauty. The facilities are nice: there is a temple building with residential quarters, a guesthouse, a little restaurant, a small goshala, and on some terrassed land flowers and vegetables are being cultivated.
For the festival the visiting devotees were camping in big tents, and the hosting devotees had gone out of their way to create an atmosphere of hospitality and affectionate care.
As special guests we welcomed HH Lokanath Maharaja, HH Bhakti Bringa Govinda Maharaja, HH Bhakti Purusottama Maharaja, HH Mahavisnu Maharaja and HH Prabhavisnu Maharaja, with my humble self being the host of the event.
The occasion was named “the festival of the Holy Names” - devotees were deeply absorbed in hearing Krsna Katha during the day related to the Holy Name, and the evenings were spent blissfully chanting Hare Krishna and dancing for several hours in sweet and melodious kirtans - on the last evening going past midnight. The whole atmosphere was simply surcharged with great joy and jubilation, giving devotees a direct experience of a higher level of happiness far beyond the material platform of sense enjoyment - something they had never witnessed before: the Vaikuntha atmosphere.
Devotees compared the event to a ‘bomb hitting Nepal and creating a wonderful explosion’ - a revolution within their heart and consciousness! HH Mahavisnu Maharaja, who has been serving the Nepal yatra as the regional secretary for more than 30 years called it the most successful and wonderful event in the history of ISKCON Nepal. In his closing comments he stated that no other festival in Nepal has affected devotees’ hearts as much as this one.
In CC Madya 3,203 Srila Prabhupada comments in the purport:
“If one has the proper means and wealth, he should occasionally invite the devotees of Lord Caitanya who are engaged in preaching all over the world and hold a festival at home simply by distributing prasadam and talking about Krsnsna during the day and holding congregational chanting for at least three hours in the evening. This procedure must be adopted in all centers of the Krsnsna consciousness movement.”
All the devotees participating in this event could feel the spiritual strength and unity gained through such festivals. Not only does our bhakti lata receive extra nourishment through intensified sravanam kirtanam, but at the same time the mood of service to the Vaisnavas is being cultivated more deeply - otherwise such festivals simply cannot take place. Furthermore the whole event was absolutely free of charge - no festival fees were taken, which truly conquered the devotees’ hearts. It was a festival of affection and loving exchanges: hearing confidential topics and speaking confidentially, giving and accepting tasty prasadam, and at the closing ceremony gifts were presented to all the honourable guest speakers: woolen chadars and the traditional Nepali hat, which symbolizes the Himalayan mountains.
Investing into devotees’ spiritual upliftment is truly the best investment - it is of eternal benefit. If we take care of devotees and ongoingly give nourishment and inspiration, then they will in return give their very life to the service of the Lord and His devotees…….