Vasanta Pancami Snana

January 24, 2007 at 8:38 am Leave a comment

BY DEENA BANDHU DASA (ACBSP)

Jan 24, ALLAHABAD, INDIA (SUN) β€” Yesterday was Vasanta Pancami, or the first day of Spring. But when we woke up, it felt like mid-winter! Fog, which the devotees who stayed here the whole time said was only there in the first few days, descended as did the mercury. Luckily this time since the group of Vaisnavas (Akhara) to which we belong went first in the main snana, our turn was last and in our group, since we have only recently joined, was toward the end. In the end, we didn’t really start till after 11 AM when the sun was shining brightly.

For this Royal Snana, His Holiness Gopala Krishna Goswami joined us. Again we decided to take our wonderful long-horned bulls with us instead of the tractor. This time the ladies had more practice so the Padayatra Deity Cart was very nicely decorated with yellow and orange marigolds, even the bulls had garlands and a small garland ring around each horn.

Since we know that we can’t take the cart to the end of the line, we again parked off the road near where the procession was to begin. This time we were able to see the two other groups of Vaisnava Sadhus returning from their Snana. They were riding on top of trucks, SUVs, and jeeps, some on ornate silver thrones, holding their silver scepters and all with many different types of wonderful Vaisnava tilaka. Seeing our lively kirtan, they were all smiling, showering their blessings, and making pranams to Srila Prabhupada and Gaura Nitai.

As then end of our group came, we moved into the line. Then Gopala Krishna Maharaja took over the kirtan and the devotees became ecstatic, dancing and spinning. They very much appreciated that he had gotten down off the Deity cart to walk with the devotees. On the sides of the road, the people began to raise their arms and sing the Holy Name. Suddenly some fellow that I’ve seen in many of our Rathayatras dancing with a coconut on his head appeared with a huge steel kalash with his coconut on top. He lifted off the kalash and we could all see the top of his head is flat. He placed the pot on Maharaja’s head, then mine, and other devotees.

Finally we turned the corner to the main approach road to the Sangam. Suddenly police came dashing and stopped one very fancy SUV and moved it out of the line. It was the famous Chandra Swami, but he has never joined any group, so the sadhus objected to his being in the procession. In order to make Lokanatha Swami, a Sri Mahanta, we had worked very hard to prove that we come in a bonafide sampradaya, not just anyone can go in the Shahi Snana.

Then someone joined our kirtan dressed as Lord Siva with his big brass trishul and one of his followers dressed as a skeleton. They began to dance ecstatically with our enthusiastic kirtan. The crowd behind the barricades were chanting along, and the book distributors were out distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, as Srila Prabhupada looked on from the Deity cart.

Reaching the Sangam, we again dashed to the banks of the Sangam. The sun was shining brightly and everyone was in joyful mood. All the sadhus seeing us were shouting Hare Krishna. Many foreigners had joined us in the procession and they were all having fun bathing in the freezing waters with us. Sadhus were glancing curiously at these completely white bodies in the sacred waters of the Sangam. They seemed to be smiling like a father does when he sees his little son take his first step.

We sprinted back to the cart and someone sprinkled water on Srila Prabhupada and the bulls. We quickly dressed and joined the return procession. We had a triumphant kirtan back to our camp, with everyone amazed by the wonderful bulls. This was the final Shahi Snana and most groups will soon be leaving. Still on Purnima there is one more bath for all the people.

The day before we had invited some of the main Mahants to our camp for prasadam. This was a very important occasion, since in the past they had not come to take prasadam with ISKCON. We have been offering a feast for the Vrindavan Mahants for last three years in Fogla Ashram at Srila Prabhupada’s Disappearance Day.

When they arrived, immediately Sri Rama Ashraya Maharaja the Sri Mahant head of the Nirmohi Akhara, first of the Vaisnava Ahkharas, broke into a broad smile. He exclaimed you have brought back our old culture. The bricks where the plates were placed had been freshly smeared with cow dung and there were clay cups instead of plastic cups that even the sadhus are using these days. They were delighted to see the cooks with tilaka and kanthi mala. After relishing the feast we carefully and devotedly served to them, some of them remarked that next time, we will fast for two days so we can take more! Srila Prabhupada must have been smiling down to see this victory for ISKCON. We gave them all daksina, blankets, and one of Srila Prabhupada’s books and they were all very happy.

Now we are all sad as soon we will be breaking camp. Of course the local temple will still have tents up till the 2nd of Feb., but the main preaching effort is over as everyone is now heading for Tirupathi for the grand opening of the wonderful temple there. Just remember, the Maha Kumbha in Prayaga will be in 2013. See you there!

In service of Srimati Vrinda Devi,

Deena Bandhu dasa

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Vasanta Pancami – Sarasvati Puja – Visnupriya Devi & other Acaryas A Glimpse of Vedic Literature

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