We had one week to get ready for the festival days.....
the upcoming event, showing beautiful slides of Srila Prabhupada and commenting
in a very personal and sweet way. On the last evening before Janmastami he lead
nice kirtans for several hours.It set the perfect mood in order to prepare for Krsna's
and Srila Prabhupada's appearance: to receive Them with purified consciousness -
with eagerness and a devotional mood of service....
Devotees were busily engaged in various preparations: getting the new outfits for the Deities
ready, planning the altar decorations, arranging for new templeroom decorations,
planning the cooking of 108 preparations for Their Lordships, and many more.
And Srila Prabhupada's Vyasasana received some additional back and side pieces,
which made it look even more beautiful. I had announced to the entire congregation that
everybody should bring lots and lots of Marygold flowers, so we could make plenty of
garlands to decorate the altar, Srila Prabhupada's Vyasasana and the stair case and
several gates leading up to the templeroom doors.I couldn't restrain myself from going
out aswell, picking Marygolds in the early morning hours....
Marygolds are a MUST for Janmastami and Prabhupada's Vyasapuja! The classic and
traditional Vaisnava decoration which always reminds of Vrindavan....
The atmosphere at the temple was buzzing, almost transcendentally electrified
with excitement and eager service mood - exactly how it shouldbe before
Janmastami.....! The wonderful effect of celebrating festivals in Krsna consciousness....
In 1972 Srila Prabhupada writes in one letter: "Best way to maintain enthusiasm
is by regularly chanting with the devotees together in the temple and by having festivals.
So you should immediately have one festival, then everyone will be busily engaged.
There are so many festivals that I can give you one for every day."
Our Janmastami program was very satisfying to my heart - free from the mood of
entertainment, and simply centered around Krsna's pleasure. Everybody was so busily
absorbed in offering service to the Lord - more devotees han ever before were
engaged in various ways. The atmosphere was surcharged with a wonderful mood
of service and cooperation in devotion.
The morning program was well attended, and Yadubara Prabhu, myself and one
local devotee spoke on various aspects of the Lord's appearance.The altar looked so
magnificently decorated - when the curtains opened we almost couldn't catch our breath...
Our Gaur Nitai were Krsna Balarama today, with beautiful turbans - ready to take
the calves and cows to the fields of Vrindavan....And our little cows were also on the altar.
Our brahmacarinis had made a wonderful flower arch around our Deities - with
dried corn and yellow bushy grass, and lots of big sun flowers....! It created an atmosphere
of village life - reminding us of Vrindavan....And of course I engaged in my favorite service
of decorating the altar with lots of Marygold garlands....
In the afternoon we started with an abhisheka performed by our pujaris and senior devotees.
In this part of the world the ladies find it very natural to allow the men to take the leading
role in these functions. The ladies agree to be the auspicious source of energy to the
men and help to get everything ready, and finally allowing the men to be the heros to
perform the ceremony. And we ladies are perfectly satisfied to simply watch them conduct
it very nicely, which again inspires the men to lead.
Throughout the evening the visiting devotees and guests were engaged in hearing
about the Lord and chanting the Holy Name in kirtans and bhajans. Yadubara Prabhu gave
the main lecture, and a short and sweet cultural program as again deepening our
rememberance of the Lord with devotional poetry, little skits and sketches. The
atmosphere was devotional and deep with Their Lordships on the altar being the very center:
we were all bathing our minds in the beauty of the Lord's darshan.....
Just before the midnight artik I shared some "Krsna Meditations", reading and
commenting from Mahanidhi Swami's book Appreciating Vrindavan Dhama. I chose
the section about the animals in Vrindavan - reading about the various groups
of cows, which Krsna counts on a string with 108 beads! And the peacocks
- how they dance to please Krsna, and how He plays with them....! And the parrots -
how they serve as messengers, bringing news about the Divine Couple from one end
of the forest to the other.... And about the squirrels, monkeys and dogs.....
They all have a loving and confidential relationship with Krsna.....
During the midnight darshan we could see the Deities with a new night set,
and the altar was decorated with candles and colorful little lights.
It was the most wonderful Janmastami I had ever experienced while serving
in Ukraine.... With a joyful heart I quickly took rest in order to get up early on the
At 8am I was again in the temple, decorating Srila Prabhupada's Vyasasana
together with a few matajis - one of my favorite services.....
Some days before I had asked Prema mataji to take me around the city to
look for a gift for Srila Prabhupada - a nice woolen scarf. Soon it would
become cool, and Srila Prabhupada needed a nice scarf to put around his head
and neck. Prema mataji was trying to convince me that at this time of the year it
would be impossible to find a scarf in any of the shops, since it was still summer
time.But I wouldn't give in - impossible being a word in a fool's dictionary....
After some search we found a nice scarf, but it was simply too outrageously
expensive. Prabhupada wouldn't be pleased with such a purchase....
Finally Prema mataji had the idea to go to the market and buy some nice
wool, and simply offer the wool to Srila Prabhupada, with the promise that
one of our girls would knit a nice scarf. his wonderful idea fulfilled our desire
to offer a nice gift to Srila Prabhupada....
The program for his Vyasa Puja started at 11 am with an abhisekha. Every
devotee in devotional dress was bathing Srila Prabhupada, and Sulochan
Prabhu was leading melodious kirtans while we were triumphantly blowing the
conch shell - one of the auspicious sound vibrations declaring victory.....
Yadubara Prabhu gave a nice class about Srila Prabhupada, followed by Vyasa
Puja offerings. We read the offerings of some of our Gurus and GBC's, and
then myself and the local devotees spoke. I especially noticed how this year the
devotees offered very deep and thoughtful homages, addressing Srila Prabhupada
from their very hearts, with devotion and gratitude.This was a feast of devotion
for my heart - a strong sign that we are gradually making advancement....
Srila Prabhupada received a wonderful feast of more than 50 preparations,
and after the puspanjali ceremony I was invited to perform the artik while
Yadubara Prabhu sang the Gurvastaka prayers in the special day melody.
Prabhupada received 9 beautiful garlands, and a joyful kirtan concluded the
festivities. At the crescendo of the kirtan I took some of Prabhupada's
garlands and threw them into the crowd of devotees, and everybody jumped
cheerfully to catch them....
And finally we all sat down to take Srila Prabhupada's feast - at around 6pm....
Some days later many devotees expressed their joy and satisfaction with
those festival days. Such wonderful experiences strengthen our faith in the
process of devotional service and also in our Kharkov temple project.
Everyone is united in giving pleasure to Krsna and His pure devotee.....
I could especially sense the cooperative mood amongst the senior devotees,
and they were always eager to accept guidance and advice from myself,
double checking on various arrangements which created a very harmonious
Yadubara Prabhu left Kharkov on the same evening, traveling to Bhaktivedanta
Manor in London.The next day being a Sunday I continued the Prabhupada
Katha on the Sundayfeast lecture. In this way we could glorify Prabhupada
during two days.
My time in Kharkov was coming to an end......
I spent some more days meeting with the devotees and giving the last
visions and guiding principles and ideas - to the girls in the brahmacarini
ashram for our planned installation of our beautiful marble Gaur Nitai for July
2013, to our pujaris and to devotees for their personal lives....
It had been a very successful summer season in Kharkov.
This year I could clearly see the first positive results of the fact that I
changed my traveling style two years ago and have started to spend more time
in one place - Kharkov. I can sense that my presence is making things
more stable, and naturally it increases devotees' faith in the process of Krsna
consciousness and the project itself when a senior preacher stays longer and
shows consistent interest in steadily developing the community.
The main three events of the Holy Name Retreat, the two-week course for
the ladies and the wonderful Janmastami festival week had an uplifting effect on
the whole community. The Deities are becoming more and more the center,
and devotees are becoming more inspired to serve Them.
Trusting relationships are developing, and also the ladies' ashram is
becoming more stable, with five to six nice girls being there at present.
On the 16th of August I left on the evening train to Odessa - only
returning to Kharkov in June 2013...
Your servant, Devaki dd