First-ever boat festival for Sri Sri Gaur Nitai across Ganges
The four ISKCON temples in Mumbai celebrated the World Holy Name Week from 26 September to 10 October. ISKCON Juhu hosted the first and the biggest event of World Holy Name Week in Mumbai.As part of the World Holy Name Week celebrations, devotees at Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari Temple chanted an increased number of rounds daily besides their regular 16 rounds and also read from ‘Namamrita’ (a book of Srila Prabhupada’s written instructions on the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra) daily after the mangala-arati.
ISKCON Juhu hosted the World Holy Name Week celebration at Hare Krishna Land on 2 October 2010. In the morning, after an inspirational discourse on Holy Name, hundreds of congregational devotees gathered to participate in the ‘Japa Marathon’. The ‘Japa Marathon’ is an annual event which has devotees congregate to chant at least 64 rounds of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. This year more than 500 devotees participated to immerse themselves in chanting the Holy Names. In between their japa sessions, devotees were treated to delectable lunch at noon and refreshing lemonade and a snack of samosa, dhoka and jalebi late in the afternoon.
In the evening prior to the main Harinam, Lokanath Swami and Bhakti Vikas Swami enthralled the crowds with stories about Lord Caitanaya and power of chanting the Holy Name. The discourse further kindled the desire in their hearts to perform harinam. The devotees were scheduled to perform harinam at Juhu Beach but were denied permission by local police as a precautionary measure in wake of the recent Ayodhya verdict. However, the change in the venue didn’t dampen the devotees’ spirits who enthusiastically placed the utsav-murti of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai on a flower bedecked golden palanquine and began the harinam within Hare Krishna Land. Devotees bearing flags and banners swayed to the soul –stirring kirtan led by Lokanath Swami.
A spectacular experience awaited the devotees after the harinam. The holy river Ganges along with the nine islands of Navadwipa was recreated in the temple courtyard. The temple courtyard was filled with water and the nine island of Navadwipa and the River Ganges were laid out through intricate designs of flower petals. Thereafter, for the first time in the history of Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari Temple, Sri Sri Gaur Nitai were placed on the boat and taken for a boat ride in the flower filled temple courtyard. The boat festivities reached its crescendo when Lokanath Swami began kirtan and thereafter stepped into the courtyard to gently propel the boat ahead in the colorful waters. While thousands of visitors witnessed the marvelous event, devotees cheered and immersed themselves in chanting the Holy Names which were melodiously led by Lokanath Swami.
Braja Hari Das, Temple President and the devotee who conceived the idea of the a boat festival for Sri Sri Gaur Nitai during World Holy Name Week mentioned that “The Sri Sri Gaur Nitai boat festival during the World Holy Name Week turned out to be a big festival after Janmashtami and Radhastami. We want to celebrate it on a bigger scale in future and spread the mercy of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai amongst the citizens of Mumbai”.
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