On the first evening program I offered some welcoming words in order to introduce Hari Sauri Prabhu to our congregation. I shared how Hari Sauri Prabhu had been part of Sydney temple when I joined there in 1985. So we had known each other for many years. Every Saturday evening he had taken the devotees out on a massive harinam through the center of Sydney - where all the cinemas, restaurants and other places for material enjoyment were located. We were around a hundred enthusiastic devotees, flooding the entire city with the chanting of the holy name. I had also been very fond of his nice lectures. Sometimes he used to borrow my Sankirtan car, and he used to chastise me for not cleaning it nicely. Once he had rebuked me: "Your seatbelts are so dirty, that they left a black mark on my kurta!"
Later he had helped me with the formalities when I purchased my flat in Mayapur, and he had even arranged for the kitchen equipment and fridge to be bought in Navadvip and delivered to my flat. Once during a very heavy flood he had dropped into my place and put the fridge up on the kitchen bench - just in case the water would enter my flat. Thus I had always considered him as my well-wishing uncle.
When sharing those memories from the early days I added, how now his same kirtan tune had reminded me of those Saturday-night harinams, and he smiling responded: "Actually, just when I was singing I was wondering whether Devaki remembers those harinams of the early days...."
This had been my mediatation for a long time, and whenever I was somewhere in nature I was always looking for things which could be collected and used for Janmastami, trying to imagine how it could look like. It had been a really wonderful mediation and absorption....
The mind likes to be absorbed in making plans. And there are only two kinds of plans: for our own sense gratification, or for Krsna's pleasure. And this absorption in making plans for Krsna's pleasure gives indeed so much joy to our heart....!
We had also planned to improve the decoration for the temple room and had decided to use colored fabric decorating the ceiling, which would bring down the high ceiling a little, would make the atmosphere more homey and add a little color.
In the early morning of the day before Janmastami I drove with Prema Mataji to a wonderful area nearby, on the banks of a little river, and we collected so many beautiful things from nature for the altar decoration! Nice yellow flowers, various kinds of long and big grass, and so many other things which were perfectly suitable for our purpose. Krsna had fulfilled my long-cherished desires....! And the entire day I spent arranging a wonderful forest of Vrindavan - in so many vases of all sizes.
As a huge backdrop we had a paintin of Varshana, with some narrow side strips of copies from famous paintings from the Krsna Art Book - with cows on the left, and gopis on the right.
It turned out to be a beautiful arrangement and the devotees were very pleased, commenting that the altar had become a transcendental panorama - a window into Goloka Vrindavan....
Hari Sauri Prabhu gave the morning lecture about Krsna's appearance, and I continued by reading from Srila Kavi Karnapura's book Ananda Vrindavan Campu, commenting here and there. This book is full of beautiful and very poetic descriptions of Krsna's pastimes, which take the mind into another world. Throughout the day senior devotees were continuing to speak and chant in Kirtan, and also read Krsna Book - the entire temple was filled with transcendental sound vibration.
In the afternoon we commenced the program with a beautiful abishek of our new Radha Krsna Deities, performed by our pujaris and brahmanas on the altar, for everybody to take part within the mind, accompanied by melodious and sweet kirtan. Hari Sauri Prabhu gave another evening lecture, followed by Gaur Artik. This year we had only a few very short cultural performances, and we continued with opening Krsna's gifts and reading out His birthday cards. There were bhajans, and later we were swinging Their Lordships on Their newly built swing, which was a wonderful way of engaging everybody in giving pleasure to Their Lordships.
The Deities had received more than 108 preparations cooked with love and devotion. The entire atmosphere during the evening was very devotional - simply centered around the Deities' pleasure.
Just before midnight I gave a lecture sharing some drops of nectar about Govardhana Hill, reading various descriptions and verses about the glories and beauty of Govardhana. He is considered the topmost devotee, providing so many beautiful places where Krsna and His associates are performing Their confidential pastimes - with waterfalls, caves bedecked with jewels, and with the most soft and tasty grass, so that Krsna will bring the cows there to graze.
It had become the annual tradition for me to share some sweet and confidential moments about the spiritual world - just before midnight artik, when some visitors had gone home already and only the very sincere ones were still there. It always creates a very nice mood, building up to the moment when Krsna actually appeared - at midnight, when we had the sweet and prayerfulmidnight artik, with candles decorating the altar.
Around 350 devotees and guests had participated in this wonderful festival, and I felt fully satisfied at heart.
The entire program was simply wonderful, and devotees were very pleased and satisfied at heart. During the days of Hari Sauri Prabhu's visit I had the good fortune to every morning take breakfast with him together in the office, and at Prabhupada's appearance we were also eating together, sharing thoughts and views on various topics. I felt very blessed having the opportunity to get his association, and I asked him many questions, being well aware that I might not have so many more opportunities in the future....
I decided to every year invite a special guest for those festival days, since it is wonderfully uplifting to the entire atmosphere.
On the 8th of September I flew off to Germany....
Your servant, Devaki dd