By Sri Gauranga Das
On 12th of April 2011, Mombasa, Kenya celebrated a very special Ram Navami festival as a beautiful new ISKCON temple was opened and Their Lordships Sri Sri Sita Rama Laksman Hanuman were installed and welcomed to reside in Nyali to give Their blessings to all the residents of Mombasa.
The festivities of the grand opening of New Dwarikadham Temple in Nyali, Mombasa were spread over five days beginning with Nagar sankirtana in the Nyali area on Saturday 9th April 2011.
On Sunday 10th April 2011 devotees and well wishers arose very early in the morning to attend the last mangala arati offered to Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarikadish in the old temple which is situated in Ganjoni, Mombasa. A very special procession then followed as devotees and well wishers accompanied Their Lordships Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarikadish to their new home in Nyali and warmly welcomed Them with pomp and ecstatic kirtana.
A series of yajnas were performed over the next two days for invoking auspiciousness and purity. Continuous Harinam sankirtan also was performed throughout the festival.
On Monday 11th of April the netronmilanam ‚Äď opening of the eyes ceremony was performed for Sri Sri Sita Rama Laksman Hanuman. A variety of auspicious items were presented before the Deities as they opened Their eyes for the first time. At night devotees and well wishers were treated to a very special darshan of Sri Sri Sita Rama Laksman Hanuman lying on Their beds for the sayana adivas ceremony. Many devotees felt Their hearts melt for being present to witness such a rare darshan, some devotees commented that they had never seen such a darshan and felt blessed to witness this ‚Äúonce in a lifetime‚ÄĚ darshan.
On Tuesday 12th of April the pran pratishta ceremony for installing Sri Sri Sita Ram Laksman Hanuman was performed in the morning at 7.30 am. This was then followed by Maha abhishek for Sri Sri Rukmini Dwarikadish and Sri Sri Sita Rama Laksman Hanuman. Devotees eagerly awaited to see Their Lordships in Their new altar giving Their first darshan and as they were waiting the temple was officially opened when the flag and cakra were installed on the highest dome of the temple. The long wait for the first darshan of the Deities in their new altar was soon over and devotees with great enthusiasm sang and danced in front of the Deities welcoming and requesting the Deities to stay and bless them.
On the last day of the festivities, a cultural and appreciation programme was held to recognize the efforts of the devotees and well wishers who made the project successful.
The new temple is situated on a 2 acre piece of land and was constructed in a record of two years time. This was made possible through the blessings and expert guidance of the GBC of Kenya, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami. Also the temple president His Grace Anand Das put in immense effort to see the project through. The temple project was supported by numerous donors who included Dr. Kanubhai Babla, Harish Gokh, Pulin Gandhi among others. This temple is now the most beautiful and largest ISKCON temple in East and Central Africa. The temple contains a garden full of colorful flowers with a colored-water fountain, the first of its kind in Kenya, that is surrounded by a cabro-tiled pathway that devotees can walk on while chanting. The temple includes a fully-stocked Vedic library, a large prasadam hall, and separate kitchens for the Deities, devotees and Food for Life. Behind the temple is a 26 room luxurious guest house. There‚Äôs also a 400-person-capacity air-conditioned community hall for conferences, marriages, and stage events, as well as an Indian vegetarian restaurant which will serve a wide variety of North and South Indian dishes. A gift shop and an Indian sweet shop round are also included within the temple premises.
Many sannyasis and senior devotees attended the festival including His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami, His Holiness Maha Visnu Swami, His Holiness Rama Govinda Swami, His Holiness Bhakti Nrisimha Swami, His Grace Bhima prabhu, His Grace Mahaman prabhu, His Grace Murali Krishna Das, His Grace Madhava Dev Das and His Grace Isvara Das. Devotees from Nairobi, Kisumu, Kampala and Dar es Salam were also in attendance.