During this one month in Kharkov I gave a two-week course "Men and Women in Spiritual Culture" to a mixed audience, and we also included a couple of sessions of "Marriage in Spiritual Culture". It was well attended by around 75 devotees, mainly from the Kharkov community, with more devotees watching over internet. Some ladies had come from far away places such as Russia and Crimea. We had the seminar sessions every evening from 6pm to 8:30pm and Saturday a full day, and some mornings a question-and-answer session in a smaller circle, mainly to give special attention to those who had come from far away. As always it made deep impacts on the devotees' hearts and created a revolution in their minds.
Last year we had obtained our beautiful Festival Deities of Radha Syamasundara, and this year we observed Jhulan Yatra for the first time, which was very sweet and gave another opportunity for the community to come together for kirtan. We had arranged for several groups of ladies who decorated the swing one evening each, and I could sense their endeavors to create the decorations a little different every day.
On Balarama's appearance we had chosen the theme of "Vrindavan Village", and we arranged the altar decoration accordingly, with many sweet little details reminding everyone of Vrindavan village: little wooden fences, clay pots, cow stool paddies and all kinds of bundled up grains, corn and pumkins reminding of the harvesting season. To take darshan truly engaged the mind in remembering Krsna and Balarama in Vrindavan..... I was invited to give the main evening lecture.
We also found very nice little pot plants which created a lush and pleasing Govardhana forest-mood on the altar. We sent the young fellows to the forest to gather fresh and dark green moss and unique looking tree parts, and they felt inspired to also include a selection of mushrooms! And of course, we also collected nice looking rocks of all sizes. As every year I was going into nature to pick all kinds of greens, grasses and wild flowers, and I couldn't resist to come along to the flower market to chose whatever would enhance my Govardhana meditation. It was indeed a most wonderful absorption for me - creating a window into the spiritual world...!
I had invited HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami to attend our celebration - it always makes a festival very special and uplifting, when we receive a sadhu as chief guest. He gave several evening programs with Krsna Katha and of course also on Janmastami, adding a special flavor to the mood.
From 11pm to 12pm I usually do a little "Krsna Meditation" program, this year taking up the theme of Govardhana and reading various quotes from the SB and other scriptures. The mood of the entire festival was very sweet and deep, centered around sravanam kirtanam. We were also again swinging the Deities, with nice kirtan.
This year we launched a new design and style of decoration, with a more intricate colour combination of garlands made from yellow Marrygolds, green leaves and white roses, with a dark red rose at the end. It required more coordination and planning - increasing the Vaikuntha atmosphere.....
Srila Prabhupada's Vyasa Puja is always the highlight of the series of festivals - especially deep and meditative: a festival of gratitude, culminating in re-dedicating ourselves to sacrifice this one life in his mission. As Prabhupada once said: we have had so many lives - let's just give this one life time to Krsna! And then we can do whatever we like....
I feel very inspired by the way the Kharkov community is developing. Sarvatma Prabhu is growing very naturally into the role of being the leader of the community. He now established a Strategic Planning Committee consisting of men who are materially together, educated and successful in their work and business. Last year we have bought half a plot of land behind the temple, and the other half is outstanding and will be purchased eventually. It will give more space to develop further constuctions and gardens around the temple building. Just before Janmastami we found out that a nice little house was up for sale three doors up from our temple, so we decided to buy it for the community, as a humble offering to SP for his 50th anniversary of ISKCON, calling it Prabhupada Bhavan.
It will be a perfect house for visiting Maharajas and preachers......
What a great pleasure to be part of this dynamically growing community....!
On the 29th of August I flew on to Lvov to attend the gigantic Bhakti Sangam Festival, together with HH Bhakti Purosottama Swami..........
Your servant, Devaki dd