L-R: Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
“I have been attending all the festivals for the past ten years. This is a very important festival and I love seeing the abhisheka,” says Murali an employee of LIC and a resident of Krishnaraja Puram.
“On this Sunday evening, while our family members are “enjoying” watching television and eating non vegetarian food, we have come here to enjoy the festival! We are thankful to Srila Prabhupada for giving us such wonderful festivals. They are so purifying, make us happy and take us a step closer in going back to our spiritual home,” say Mala and Pallavi who call themselves “ISKCON friends” and have been practicing Krishna consciousness for the past six years.
Ajay Kumar, an employee of IBM who has come all the way from North Bengaluru travelling 14 kms says this is the first time he is attending the festival, and it was very nice and he enjoyed a lot.
Such is the magnetic pull of festivals conducted at Hare Krishna Hill, ISKCON Bangalore. Gaura Purnima, celebrated on March 12th, 2017 was no different!
Gaura refers to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is also known as Gauranga due to His golden complexion and Purnima refers to full moon day. So Gaura Purnima is the festival celebrating the divine appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who appeared on Phalguni Purnima, the full moon day in the month of Phalguna (Feb-March). He appeared in the year 1486 AD (1407 Shakabda) at Sridham Mayapura as the son of Sri Jagannath Mishra and Srimati Sachidevi. This festival marks the beginning of the New Year for Gaudiya Vaishnavas.
Although the Deities specially decorated for the occasion blessed the constantly streaming in devotees since early morning, the main celebration was scheduled for the evening. The celebration started with the pallakki utsava of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai (Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda Prabhu). The utsava Deities placed in a pallakki bedecked with flowers were taken in a procession. All along the procession route, the Deities were showered with flowers from atop to the accompaniment of the melodious kirtan of Hare Krishna maha mantra.
After the procession, the Deities of Nitai Gauranga received a grand abhisheka. Their Lordships were first bathed with panchamrita and then with panchagavya followed by various fruit juices, as devotees chanted prayers from the Brahma-samhita glorifying the Lord. A grand arati was performed to the accompaniment of the beautiful rendition of Gaura Arati song composed by the great Vaishnava acharya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. After the arati, the Deities were bathed with sanctified water from 108 kalashas while the devotees chanted the Purusha Sukta prayers. Their Lordships then received pushpa vrishti (showering of flowers).
Lord Chaitanya’s appearance in Kali Yuga is predicted in Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32.
yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ
Translation: In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.
The same supreme personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna who appeared in Dvapara-yuga approximately 5,000 years ago in a blackish complexion appeared again in Kali-yuga about 500 years ago with a golden complexion. He appeared as a devotee of the Lord. He introduced sankirtana yajna (congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord), the yuga dharma for this age. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, (ISKCON) founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is a continuation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement. His activities and teachings are described in detail in the book, Teachings of Lord Chaitanya and the multi-volume Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita.
Now back to the festivities. After the elaborate showering of a variety of colorful flowers for Their Lordships, the curtains dropped. As the Deities were being decorated behind the closed curtains, the assembled devotees were treated to a beautiful rendition of Sri Sachitanaya Ashtakam, in Kannada (regional language) for the first time. The audience also loved an audio visual presentation including insightful snippets on Lord Chaitanya compiled from various lectures of Srila Prabhupada. When the curtains opened, Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai looked exquisitely beautiful and received shayana arati to the resounding of melodious kirtan followed by shayana pallakki utsava.
Having fasted until moon rise on this important day, hundreds of devotees quickly queued up to receive a variety of servings of non-grain prasadam. The program concluded with devotees savoring dahi vada, carrot halva and other lip smacking delicacies!
Krishna’s appearance in Kali-yuga as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the most auspicious day for all the conditioned souls of Kali-yuga. There is no limit as to how much mercy He showered and is still showering through His sincere followers. It is only by the causeless mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that we are all able to chant the holy names of Krishna. No amount of pious credits can award us Krishna bhakti. It is possible only by the mercy of the Lord and His devotees. Gauranga’s mercy is our only hope to perform devotional service. There is no other way. No wonder a Vaishnava acharya has sung in Bengali, “yadi gaura na hoito, tabe ki hoito” which means “If Lord Gauranga had not appeared what would have become of us?”
On this auspicious day of Gaura Purnima, just as the full moon has risen in the dark night, the transcendental moon called Lord Chaitanya has risen in this dark age of Kali. May we bask in the moonlight of Lord Chaitanya and ceaselessly chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare!