Mumbai’s Four ISKCON Centers celebrate WHNW 2009

Harinam by CMIn Mumbai, ISKCON's four centers conducted four separate Harinams (street chanting of the holy names of God accompanied by mrdangas and kartalas)during the fortnight from September 12 to September 20. The unlimited mercy of the compassionate Lord flowed and flowed as thousands participated in well-organized festivals.

Here is a report:

Posters and flex banners with pictures of Their Most Merciful Lordships Sri Gauranga (Lord Caitanya) and Sri Nityananda, prominently displayed at the city's four ISKCON temples, had announced the upcoming Harinam program days ahead of schedule.  In this way, devotees had ample time to prepare and make themselves available for the festivities.

In the first Harinam on Saturday, September 12, six hundred devotees led by Temple President Jagjivan Das of Sri Sri Radha Giridhari Mandir, Mira Road,chanted the holy names of God and danced right from the temple-front along Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg towards the crowded local railway station area,across Shanti Nagar's popular marketplace and then back, while residents from the many society buildings happily joined in. People en route witnessed the wonderful Harinam group of street chanters with approving smiles and
raised hands.

Mumbai's newest ISKCON center at Khargar, Navi Mumbai, conducted a splendid Harinam festival on the next day, Sunday September 13.  President Sura Das led twelve hundred enthusiastic devotees from Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohan temple to tour the entire adjoining area. Enthusiastic devotees tirelessly sang and leaped and danced between skyscrapers and shanties for three hours distributing the nectar of the holy name to as many of Khargar's residents as would take it. The Harinam yatra wound its way through roads, lanes and by-lanes before returning to the temple site for Arati and a subsequent sumptuous dinner prasadam for all the participants.

Earlier, all afternoon it had looked foreboding with big black clouds overhead. People were ducking under umbrellas, seeking shelter from the rain. But the evening skies turned out to be delightfully different. 'The
show must go on,' an American devotee was heard saying to the young person next to me on the bus from Juhu to Khargar. And what a show it turned out to be! The breathtaking view of the Sahyadri hills in the backdrop immediately lifted our spirits after the long bus ride. ISKCON Khargar served approximately 2000 people hot, freshly prepared halava from a kirtan van accompanying the Harinam.

In the third of this Harinam series, eight hundred devotees led by Sanat Kumar Das, president of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath mandir, briskly moved from Opera House toward the Girgaum Chowpatty temple, chanting across roads and subways, undaunted by the thickly crowded evening traffic of a congested city area, patiently distributing the holy name's divine mercy to all comers. Ecstatic kirtan and dancing by many youth marked the occasion. There were some cops on duty to check undesirable incidents. Often traffic gave way, crowds gathered to stand and stare but no one could hold the ecstasy of the devotees! Inspired congregational members walked with the Harinam parties distributing spiritual books authored by Srila Prabhupada out of bags hanging from their shoulders.

The Harinam yatra completed its route under sunny skies as even the demigods extended cooperation in glorifying their dear Lord. Krishna prasada dinner served out to all devotees at the conclusion of the festival included Pav-bhaji and sweet Srikhanda (a Mumbai delicacy).

On Sunday, September 20, in the fourth Harinam, sixteen hundred devotees departed from Sri Sri Radha Rasbihari Mandir (temple president: Brajhari Das) ecstatically chanting and dancing  along the length of the Juhu beach southwards and up back again. Hundreds of visitors listened with their families to Sura Das and Mukunda Madhava Das exhorting them to participate uninhibitedly in the ongoing chanting and prayers aimed at world peace and welfare.

Participating in these Harinam processions were devotees from USA, Europe and other countries. Indeed, 'Hare Krishna' breaks all barriers as seen from the happy participation by men, women and children of all ages, castes, nationalities and sects. At times even the police and media photographers joined in the chanting as Harinam sankirtan inundated the streets of our metropolis. Here was a re-enaction of the Lord's Jharikhand forest lila, with homo sapiens of a modern concrete jungle quite ecstatically calling out in unison the Lord's holy names!!

In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is repeatedly and clearly said that the essence of religion in the Age of Kali is the chanting of the holy name of Krishna.

No doubt Srila Prabhupada was beaming all the way!