What could be a better way to celebrate the Appearance Day of Happiness-Personified Lord Çré Kåñëa ‘Janmashtami’ than with the vibrant and loyal Sunflowers…Sürajamukhé , as it is termed, was the theme of the Festival. Just as this flower grows facing the sun, we, the eternally conditioned kåñëa-bahirmukha jévas can actually grow, blossom only facing/turning to Lord Çré Kåñëa.
Janmashtamicomes every year.. It is celebrated in KARM every year.. YET every year, it is celebrated in newer & newer ways; every year, decoration is done in never-seen before way; every year, enthusiasm of devotees in on rise; every year, services of devotees reaches new heights; every year, 56-bhoga crosses all limits; for all years the celebration is relished & cherished.
Delhi monsoons had departed but it continued to rain.. but was it a stoppage in any way?!? No!! Amidst heavy rain on 2nd September, devotees gathered to prepare flower bunches for their very own festival. Backdrop & sunflower motive was being made at devotees’ factory & showroom.. cut outs of glittery sunflowers was being made by Mãtãjés, not only at their homes but also in their office.. Shopping for gifts was also being done.. Searching for newer & newer variety of 56-Bhoga continued without a pause.
It was Monday, 3rd September, 2018, 6:30am.. there was an empty big hall, a clean kitchen and a vacant outside area..
Devotees gathered.. with full enthusiasm..
Tables were unfolded.. curtains were passed through rods.. fabric was spread.. pillars were screwed.. cut outs (of sunflowers) were pasted.. bunches of flowers were hanged.. carpets & sheets were laid..
Simultaneously, vegetables were unpacked.. spices were opened.. ingredients were unwinded.. stove was set.. clean utensils were put into use..
And within just 2.5 hours, the empty big hall turned into a decorated, very beautiful venue.. clean kitchen turned into an aromatic space.. and the vacant outside area turned into parking area..!
It was 9am.. Devotees began to arrange 56-bhoga on decorated tables.. Tulasi Leaves were put into them.. Colorful Rangoli was made at the entrance.. Final touch-ups were done..
Time was 10am.. DEITIES presided over beautiful golden-yellowish sunflower studded Altar..
Preparations for Abhiñeka was done.. everything was ready.. except one.. and that was – arranging 56-bhoga.. As more & more devotees entered the Venue, more & more 56-bhogas were brought.. This year 56-bhoga crossed 1400 mark and included- 56+56+56+60 toffees, 82+56 biscuits, 56+56+73 drinks, 56+56 namkeens, 56+56 sweets, 56 homemade laddoos among others.. There were atleast 101 homemade sweets in all.. Varieties of Fruits, Dry-fruits, Makhan-mishri were also offered.
Now, it was 10.45am.. amidst Svãgataà Kértana, Auspicious Conch-shell and Ullu Dhvani, entered our revered ÇRÉ GURUDEVA and real celebrations started.
ÇRÉ GURUDEVA did Abhiñeka of Çré Kåñëa Deity with Païca-Amåta.. Following ÇRÉ GURUDEVA, devotees were also blessed with the opportunity to do Abhiñeka.
Thereafter, a pictorial representation of the commonly heard but rarely understood Çloka- ‘Tvameva Mãtã ca Pitã Tvameva’ was shown in Presentation, inspired from ÇRÉ GURUDEVA 2017 Janmashtami Lecture. It was then the time to smile & learn through the Play enacted wonderfully by a group of devotees on- Rãdhã-Kåñëa Lélã & the way by which one enter into it.
After this, Quiz took place based on Questions from Rãdhã-Kåñëa Lélãs, the time it takes place and what is maïjarés’ service at that time. The participants were awarded DVDs of Pada-Gãnas & Kértanas; Love, Loving Relationships Lecture by ÇRÉ GURUDEVA.
Everyone was now eagerly waiting for the Discourse by ÇRÉ GURUDEVA. All were settled.. one devotee started Hare Kåñëa Kértana.. with closed eyes, all other devotees were following him.. SUDDENLY, the most melodious voice was heard- “Jai Rãdhã Çyãmasundara” Kértana.. the VOICE of ÇRÉ GURUDEVA. GURUDEVA drenched all in the ecstatic Kértana..
This was followed by Maìgalãcaraëa and Lecture. GURUDEVA very elaborately explained how great Lord Kåñëa is & how fortunate i am, that despite being an insignificant soul, i have a direct relation with the All-Glorious, the Supreme Lord.
After 1.5 hours of Discourse, devotees requested ÇRÉ GURUDEVA for Cutting of Ann and Non-ann Cakes.. We were blessed further as ÇRÉ GURUDEVA Accepted our menial offerings. Devotees served gifts to each other.
As is said and is experienced by all that materially everything gets stale after a short while.. its freshness goes away. But in spirituality, everything is ever-fresh, ever-new and ever-beautiful… It is everyone’s realisation in KARM that after serving in any occasion, one feels that it was the last option to serve and starts wondering of what new they would serve in the subsequent occasion.. but with each festival, a new, a never-served before gift could be well thought of and served.. and so was on Janmashtami.
A very well thought of, beautifully designed Table Clock depicting Añöa-Kãla Lélãs was served to all by a devotee.. 3 boxes of roasted, salted and flavoured dry fruits was served by a Devotee Couple. Be it salvãrs to Mãtãjés and T-shirts to Prabhujés, set of microwave safe katoris and bowls and set of trays.. assorted cookies and assorted drinks.. Kãju burfé, besan laddu and traditionally made Mãl-puãs.. devotees served love-filled offerings. Milton hot case, a basket of eatables, kitchen towels, raisins, jute bags etc. were also served. Devotees kids also were not behind in serving… They served 6-grain snacks, polo, crunchy packs, toffees etc.
There was thus variety in all.. be it 56-bhoga or gifts.. not just that, even the Fasting-cum-feasting Prasãdaà was no less in variety.. Further, in Prasãdaà drinks also there was a variety.
To add further to this Auspicious Day, ÇRÉ GURUDEVA blessed us with After-Lecture TALK, explaining how can we practically implement the Session in our lives.
ÇRÉ GURUDEVA departed thereafter.. and it seemed as if the day got over with the blink of eye..
Devotees lovingly rendered the wind-up seva.. 56-bhoga was distributed to devotees and outside.. Tables were folded.. curtains were taken out from the rods.. fabric was folded.. pillars were unscrewed.. cut outs (of sunflowers) were removed.. hung bunches of flowers were taken out.. carpets & sheets were folded..
Simultaneously, winding up of remaining vegetables, spices was done.. ingredients were packed.. stove was taken off.. utensils were washed.. and thus the decorated Venue was again turned into a big empty hall.. aromatic area again turned into clean kitchen.. devotees departed for their homes with bags full of gifts and Prasãdaà and hearts full of bliss and ecstasy.