Devotees Celebrate Half-Man & Half Lion Incarnation of Lord Krishna
Narsimha Caturdasi is the appearance day of Sri Narsimhadev, an incarnation of Lord Krishna in form of half-man and half-lion. The Lord appeared in this unusual form to protect His devotee Prahlad from the atrocities of his father and reestablish religious principles. Celebrations at the temple on 13 May 2014 included a fire sacrifice, discussion about the glories of Lord Narsimha, maha-abhishek at dusk followed by arati and prasada.
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Special Summer Flower House For Deities
Special flower bungalows were erected and decorated with fragrant mogra and lotus flowers on all the three altars to bring relief to Their Lordships from the mid-May summer on 13 May 2014. A dedicated team to pujaris and congregation devotees worked tirelessly for a week to design and decorate the flower bungalow.
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Sitanavami, the appearance day of Srimati Sitadevi, the consort of Lord Rama was celebrated on 8 May 2014. Sitadevi represents chastity, service attitude, commitment, humility, spiritual strength and unlimited beauty. On Sitanavami, devotees pray to Her to bestow the above qualities on them in their service to Sri Rama. Early in the morning, devotees took Deities of Sri Sri Sita Rama on Juhu Beach in a procession and later performed a maha-abhishek followed by arati.
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Soothing Relief For Deities From Scorching Summer
The soothing Chandan yatra festival was celebrated on 2 May 2014. Chandan yatra begins from Akshaya Tritaya and is celebrated for 21 days mainly in the summer for the pleasure of the Lord and his devotees. As part of the festival, the utsava-murtis (smaller deities) are applied fresh and cool sandalwood paste to give relief from hot summer. On the first day of the festival, the presiding deities were decorated with colorful sandalwood paste and adorned with fresh flower outfits.
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Cows at ISKCON Farm Get a New Home
The extremely adorable cows, calves and bulls at Nilachal Dham Farm, Talasari, were in receipt of a special dwelling when the management and devotees at ISKCON Juhu inaugurated a new goshala (cowshed) on 2 May. A special yajna, tour to goshala, feeding the cows with bananas and jaggery and special prasad for all marked the inauguration celebrations. More than 70 cows, calves and bulls reside at the farm and are cared for by a special team of devotees who oversee their care and maintenance.
Rath Yatra & Gokulananda Mela Delights All
ISKCON Juhu congregation devotees based at Goregoan (E) organized an annual Ratha-Yatra Festival on 26 April 2014. Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra devi graced the streets of Film City Road in a Parade of Chariots beginning from Dindoshi fire station by glancing mercifully at everybody with Their beautiful lotus eyes. The chariots halted at regular intervals at places where the devotees desired to offer arati. Finally, the parade of chariots decorated with the love of devotees concluded at the Gokuldham High School ground followed by sumptuous prasadam for all. All along the route, devotees inundated the atmosphere with the positive energy and enthusiasm of Harinam Sankirtan as well as distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental books.
The festival did not end here. The following evening was completely dedicated in glorifying the Supreme Lord through cultural presentations such as dance, drama, music, magic show, puppet show and various other artistic performances conclusively celebrated as the Gokulananda Mela every year.
The Mela witnessed on an average about 3500 people including kids and adults engaging themselves enthusiastically to understand the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness. Many stalls were dedicated to give the taste of unparalleled nectar of Vedic culture to the masses. There was an informative game stall dedicated to the glories of Mother Cow.
Various competitions like drawing and painting, spiritual theme-games, tattoo making and so on were held for the enjoyment of children. Delicious mouth watering prasadam was served to all. Certainly everybody had something to gain out of the festival of joy in the form of memories of Lord Krishna dwelling in their heart which they shall appreciate all the way till this exuberant Gokulananda Mela appears again next year.
Austerity the pillar of religion
In the English language, the word “austerity” has negative connotation. Austerity is derived from the greek word “austeros” which means dry or harsh. One who is austere is expected to be stern, rigorous, harsh or severe. Especially in the West and now in India too, ideas associated with the word ‘austerity’ are so negative that when they hear of an austere person they automatically wish to avoid him.
Contrary to this school of thought, one performs so much austerity in material life too. Everyone who works know that they have to accept so much abuse, inconveniences and personal minimization just to get that pay cheque every month.
Austerity we must perform. This is the way the game is played in the material world. We have several task masters here and some of them are in our own body constantly putting us into the state of inconvenience. Therefore, material life also has that element of austerity. Inevitably no one can avoid it. It is basically the design of the material world. We uselessly and foolishly perform austerity for sense gratification. We toil on a futile path which spans to a long number of years. As Srila Prabhupada said ‘we feed into a life of misery’ Ultimately it has to dawn on us that this human form of life is not meant for sense gratification.
Therefore, right austerity implies voluntary acceptance of suffering for a higher purpose. This is conducive to liquidate all our sinful activities for which we are suffering. The propaganda that one can enjoy this life materially and at the same time spiritually advance is simply bogus.
In the Krishna Consciousness movement, we accept simple austerities such as observance of ekadasis (fasting from grains) and similar other fasting days . We refrain from illicit sex life, intoxication, gambling and meat eating. We also chant prescribed number of rounds of Hare Krishna Maha Mantra daily. By following this regulation we purify our existence in this human form of life.
The very essence of our austerity is to please Krishna – samsiddhim hari tosanam – by devotional service. By practicing devotional service , one regains his spiritual life . As soon as one regains one’s spiritual life he enjoys unlimited bliss. But if someone undertake austerities and penances for some material gain, then as stated in the Bhagavad Gita, the results are temporary and are desired only by persons of less intelligence. By practicing devotional service laced with simple austerities prescribed by ISKCON's Founder Srila Prabhupada, we gradually realize the distinction between body and soul and more importantly how the soul can be unaffected by the pleasures and pains of this body. The entire process of austerity is meant to detach one from the material world and enhance our attachment to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This austerity means despite the irrational impulses of the mind one remains focused in executing his proper duty in life. These little regulations disciplines us and frees us from material desires. As they say real heroism is to conquer our lower nature.
This austerity in devotional service connotes immense joy. Devotees rise early chant and dance glorifying the Supreme Lord and Krishna sends us very nice foodstuff and we honour it as his mercy. This austerity leads us to eternal bliss which is transcendental happiness and it continues for ever.
Our voluntary acceptance of inconvenience for a higher purpose pays off. We could start it right away. On June 9, 2014 we celebrate Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi. Observance of this ekadasi has special significance – it gives the fruit of all ekadasis during the year. Under the advice of Vyasadeva , Bhima, the second of the Pandava brothers, follows this ekadasi – fasting from water in the hottest month of the year.
Austerity or tapasya also indicates that we must proceed with our business of Krishna Consciousness despite all the dangers and calamities of the world. This firm conviction and endeavour of voluntary acceptance of difficulties will facilitate and foster spiritual realization.
Ramnavami Festivities Draws Thousands
Ramnavami is the appearance day of Lord Rama. Lord Rama appeared as the son of King Dasharath and Queen Kaushalya in the dynasty of Sun-god. He is an incarnation of Lord Krishna who appeared in Treta-yuga as an ideal king who exhibited high standard of morality and virtue.
A grand Ramnavami, with celebrations spanning over five-days, was celebrated at ISKCON Juhu from 4 – 8 April. The celebrations began with narration of pastimes of Lord Rama from his childhood days till he took over as the king of Ayodhya. HG Sarvabhauma Das explained in detailed most of the pastimes of Lord Rama as stated in Valmiki Ramayan, an ancient Vedic scripture from 4 – 8 April.
The Deities of Sri Sri Sita Rama Laxman Hanuman rode on a beautifully decorated boat on 6 April in the temple courtyard which was filled with water and covered with a flower bed depicting a design of a bow, was is the chief weapon of Lord Rama. The main day of the fesitivities, 8 April, saw huge crowds of people visit the temple to either catch a quick glimpse of Sri Sri Sita Rama or leisurely participate in the day-long celebrations which included maha-abhishek and arati, Kalash abhishek and narration of pastimes of Lord Rama.
Every visitor to the temple left satisfied not only with darshan of the Lords but also a plateful of hot sanctified meal which was distributed by volunteers throughout the day.
Appearance Day Celebrations of the Most Merciful Lord Caitanya
One of the most merciful events of the year – Gaura Purnima was celebrated on 16 March 2014. Gaura Purnima is the appearance day of Lord Caitanya, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, who appeared 500 years ago, as His own worshiper. A wide variety of events were lined up to celebrate the festival, which began with mangala-arati and was followed by Shobha yatra to Juhu Koliwada garden, which was recently adopted by ISKCON Juhu. HH Badrinarayan Goswami gave a detailed slideshow presentation on ‘World of Hare Krishna’ in the temple hall, which showcased the several milestones in the history of the Hare Krishna movement and extraordinary achievements of devotees. Besides a week long Gaura-katha (narration of the pastimes of Lord Caitanya) preceding Gaura Purnima, several discourse were held throughout the day in the temple hall and Auditorium to explain the glories of Lord Caitanya as described in Caitanya-caritamrita and Caitanya Bhagavat. A drama depicting the merciful nature of Lord Caitanya, in this troubled age of Kali-yuga, helped the audience to easily understand why Lord Caitanya emphasized chanting of the holy names Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare as the best means to attain love of God. The maha-abhishek of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai in the evening was another opportunity to soak in the mercy of the Lord, by watching the Deities being showered in sacred substances with chants of Hare Krishna maha mantra enveloping the entire temple hall. While devotees fasted till dusk, almost all visitors to the temple treated themselves to sabudana kitchari and kadhi prasada which was served out hot and in unlimited quantities, by the Food for Life department. A delicious Ekadasi feast also awaited devotees after the main evening (sandhya) arati in the temple hall.
ISKCON Juhu Accepts Cares for Juhu Santacruz Garden
On request of the local MLA Shri Ashokbau Jadhav, the management at ISKCON Juhu recently accepted the responsibility for maintenance and caretaking of a garden located at Juhu Koliwada, Santacruz (W). To mark the honor, devotees brought in Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai at this garden during early hours of Gaura Purnima on 16 March and performed congregation chanting of Hare Krishna mantra.