The three of us took turns in giving the morning- and evening-program, and after a couple of days the two "boys" went on an excursion for several days to various holy places: Advaita Acarya's birthplace, Madhavendra Puri's original bhajan kutir, and Jagannath Mishra's original residency.
Like so many associates of Maharprabhu, Advaita Acarya appeared here in East Bengal, which is now Bangladesh. His birth place is on the Padma River which marks the border to India, where he performed one rather amazing pastime: One day his erlderly parents wanted to go on parikrama to visit all the holy places, and Advaita Acarya said: "You are old now - no need for you to go on parikrama. I will bring all the holy waters here to appear in the Padma River." And surely enough, still up to this very day there is one particular day in the Vaisnava calendar when the Padma River swells up, and her waters mysteriously rise during the night. There are thousands of pilgrims who come for this event, since all the holy rivers appear in the Padma River. And everybody calls out "Ganga Mata Ki Jaya", performs puja with lamps, and dives into her waters in great jubilation. It is almost a little scary and spooky - especially since it is around midnight, and people go wild in ecstacy....
Many Hindu societies offer preaching programs on this occasions, and ISKCON also has a big pandal tent with devotees giving lectures and distributing books and kitchari prasadam.
Our brahmacaris and student boys performed very nice role plays demonstrating the envious and non-envious behavior towards seniors, equals and juniors, and our participants received deep insights into the topic, discovering these tendencies in their own hearts.
Friday (which is here the main holiday of the week) I was invited to give the evening program. The open Nath Mandir (temple room) was packed with young people, and the wheather was testing everyone's sincerity: it started raining, and the electricity went off. But nevertheless, we were able to conquer over those challenges and keep a good focus, and we concluded the program with distributing Prabhupada's books.
Rupa Ragunath and Dvija-nayaka Prabhus returned to Sylhet for Gaur Purnima. Saturday evening we had a sweet adhivas program: little Gaur Nitai had kindly agreed to appear on a simple altar in a nice little straw hut in the temple room, which created a very personal and intimate atmosphere. And the pujaris performed the adhivas ceremony very expertly, involving senior and also us visiting devotees to offer various articles to Their Lordships, accompanied by sweet kirtan.
Gaur Purnima fell this year on a Sunday, which is the first working day in a Muslim country. I was invited to give the morning class, sharing the internal and more confidential reasons for the Lord's appearance as Mahaprabhu. Even though it was a working day, nevertheless many devotees came to the temple, and after class we went on a big harinam. The procession was permitted by the city authorities, and all along the way we received good protection by armed police. It was perfect timing - around 10am, when the main streets were not too busy and congested yet, but enough people were there to see us.
Throughout the day we chanted in kirtan in front of the Deities, and in the afternoon I gave another talk sharing Lord Caitanya's pastimes with a more general audience.
And the final event was an elaborate abhishek of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai, taking place on a big stage, so devotees could be absorbed in witnessing this feast for the mind. I was moved how the boys invited me first to initiate the abhishek by allowing me to offer so many different items to Their Lotdships. In this part of the world the boys see a woman as mother, and the honor and respect she is offered is an expression of their affection and gratitude....
We finally traveled back to Sylhet and concluded our visit with a sweet kirtan program for the temple devotees and students.
On the 15th of March we flew back to Dhaka.....
Your servant, Devaki dd