As soon as I had decided to spend some time in Australia and New Zealand, it was clear to me where I would celebrate Janmastami - at New Gokula, at Radha Gokulananda's lotus feet...
At the end of July/beginning of August I spent three weeks in the Sydney region - one weekend in the devotee community of Western Sydney, and two weeks at the main temple of North Sydney.
It was 15 years ago that I last visited the Bhakti Lounge in Wellington/New Zealand. It is an upbeat and unique outreach program run by around 14 enthusiastic brahmacarinis from all corners of the world, sharing a spacious flat as their ashram. Every morning they have a morning program, and in the afternoons and evenings they run different outreach programs in the nearby Bhakti Lounge: Yoga classes, presentations on various contemporary topics, kirtan evenings and a Soul Feast on Sundays. All programs conclude with nice prasadam at the end while personally connecting with the visitors. Participants pay a reasonable fee to attend the program and take prasadam - as much as they can eat. In this way, they manage to pay the rent and other expenses of the Bhakti Lounge Centre and the ashram.
On the 14th of July I arrived in New Varsana, the farm outside of Auckland - situated on the Northern island of New Zealand. Their beautiful Lordships Sri Sri Radha Giridhari, along with Jagannath, Baladeva, Subhadra and Gaur Nitai reside in Their splendid palace in the midst of this Vaishnava community.
On the 7th of July I flew to Christchurch/New Zealand to visit the devotees for one week. It is more than 30 years ago that I last visited here when attending a Vyasa Puja celebration. Then, some 10 years ago a terrible earthquake hit Christchurch and flattened a large part of the city, with more than 200 people losing their lives - by Krishna's mercy no devotees were harmed. But our temple was entirely destroyed, including their beautiful Lordships Sri Sri Gaur Nitai - it had been a devastating time for everyone.
On the 21st of June I arrived in Brisbane to visit the community of devotees for the following two weeks. Their beautiful Lordships Sri Sri Gaur Nitai will have to once again move to another location very soon - as if They are performing forever Their traveling Sankirtan pastimes...
In the beginning of June I visited New Govardhana for two weeks - a rural community in the subtropical North of New South Wales, a two-hour drive from Brisbane. It is situated in Australia's popular coastal hinterland and nestled in the foothills of the famous Mount Warning. Renowned for its beautiful surroundings, with hills and mountains covered by luxuriant, dense rainforest, it is the home of the exquisite Deities Sri Sri Radha Govardhanadhari, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Giriraja. Their palace is on the top of one of the hills, offering a stunning view - truly a divine abode...
On the 1st of June I flew from Adelaide to Canberra, visiting the devotees once again after 15 years. Meanwhile the congregation has immensely expanded, and ISKCON has purchased a nice house in a good neighborhood. The big temple room with the beautifully carved altar with gold-plated domes and decorations - made by the devotees in Ujjain - offers a befitting home for Their beautiful Lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra and Sri Sri Gaur Nitai.
On the 25th of May, after spending six weeks in Melbourne, I flew to Adelaide to visit the community of Vaishnavas. It was 30 years ago that I visited here last! And meanwhile a lot has changed...
My time in Melbourne had come to an end - I spent 6 weeks in this amazing community, working on my next book and doing programs on the weekends.
Devaki Devi Dasi's Traveling Diary
Devaki Devi Dasi is sharing her realizations and adventures in her Traveling Diary. Welcome to relish this nectar!