After more than 18 months of planning, the much anticipated moment arrived on Sunday 22 August when a breathtaking new altar was finally unveiled and officially offered to Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara to commemorate Their 40th anniversary.
It was a moment that held the devoted congregation of ISKCONâ€™s London Radha Krishna Temple completely spellbound, as the crescendo that led up to the unveiling suddenly became hushed and a temple overflowing with devotees drew a collective breath of utter captivation.
The event attracted devotees from far and wide, all converging on the intimately close walls of Londonâ€™s crest jewel to celebrate this most auspicious occasion with a day of unparalleled festivity. As the little gateway to Goloka Vrindavan slowly became inundated with devotees, a mood of bristling excitement gradually grew ever more ecstatic and a reverberating kirtan built up momentum in the temple room. The final unveiling far surpassed everyoneâ€™s expectations as evidenced by the stunned silence that ensued. As the overwhelmed congregation came to their senses enough to begin offering heartfelt devotional prayers, they were enraptured by the unrivalled beauty of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara, Sri Jagannatha, Sri Baladeva, Srimati Subadra, Sri Giri Govardhana and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. ISKCONâ€™s first large deities appeared supremely satisfied, enjoying Their opulent new home as They glanced lovingly down among Their devoted followers with Their sweetly enchanting smiles.
Although originally envisioned in January 2009 as a canopy for Their Lordships Sri Jagannatha, Sri Baladeva and Srimati Subadra, the project grew into a mammoth undertaking, blossoming in the hearts of the devotees involved into a wonderful vision of often daunting proportions. Championed by the immensely gifted Anantacarya prabhu and embraced completely by head pujari Murli Manohara dasa, it is now clear that the project was blessed by the personal supervision of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara. The complexities of the job seemed at times insurmountable as the devotees faced untold challenges, ranging from technical construction problems to logistical manoeuvrability. Indeed, the canopy construction itself had to be personally overseen by Anantacarya prabhu in India before being shipped to London. The physical construction of the extremely intricate design specifications prepared by Anantacarya demanded the most meticulous care and attention, engaging highly skilled craftsmen in India for almost 3 months of intense labour. With astounding devotional sentiments, Anantacarya poured his very heart and soul into the project, considering every centimetre of space available in a cramped and humble temple room. Supported by his entire family, the project overcame countless hurdles as they worked feverishly to meet agreed deadlines. For Anantacarya, this was literally a dream come true. While Murli Manohara dasa was placing small Radha Krishna deities on the newly constructed altar, the long forgotten dream suddenly flashed into Anantacaryaâ€™s memory. In the dream, he was standing in front of the temple altar, but Radha Londonisvara were nowhere to be seen. However, Murli Manohara dasa appeared on the scene, and placed small Radha and Krishna on the empty altar. Then from behind on his right hand side, Radha Londonisvara came to take Their place on the new altar. Little did Anantacarya know at the time, that dream would become reality many years later.
Murli Manohara spent night and day within the temple room during the entirety of the installation, ready at a momentâ€™s notice to serve Their Lordships in any eventuality. As head pujari, he personally oversaw the project, dreaming of the day that he could see Their Lordships glorified ever more with an altar befitting Their beauty. His guidance and sacrifice were invaluable assets in realising the selfless desires of all the devotees involved.
The final transfer of the deities from Their temporary altar to Their new home was a sweet and memorable pastime that left many devotees in tears. It was a delicate and touching experience for all who witnessed the loving exchanges between Radha and Krishna as Krishna first went to Their new dwelling to prepare for the arrival of His beloved. All the deities soon settled into Their new home amidst tears of jubilation and love. At the heart of the proceedings, our dear devoted temple president Jai Nitai prabhu was consumed with emotion. By his mercy, this enormous project was now complete.
The final revelation was an exquisitely crafted altar, infused with the devotional service of a dedicated team of devotees and designed to better glorify Their Lordships. The altar appears even more opulent being beautified by carefully laid marble of pristine quality. The offering was accompanied by the sweet, melodious singing of the names of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara and beautiful prayers. Many devotees were completely overcome by the mystical atmosphere, and cloaked by the dim lighting everywhere except the altar, many moistened eyes glistened from the twinkling lights descending like blessings from the jewels decorating Their Lordships. As the evening came to a close in tumultuous ecstasy, the all merciful names of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara resounded through the night in waves of mercy to purify all of London.
Pictures to go with this article can be accessed via the following website:
(A short video of this beautiful transfer can be found at the following link vimeo.com/14343523)