Our team of four Ukrainian brahmacaris (Vishoka, Gurupriya, Namacarya and Parama Karuna Prabhus), Sahasrajit Prabhu with his son Visvambhara, and a few local brahmacaris and myself squeezed into one of our Sankirtan vans....
The nature is very attractive here - hills covered with dense tropical jungle which almost remind of the area around New Govardhana Farm near Brisbane/Australia.
Every day we did preaching programs with some of our Ukrainian boys giving a short speech in Russian, which Sahasrajit Prabhu translated into English, and Jagatguru Prabhu finally into Bangla. People are always eager to hear some realizations from foreign devotees - how they met ISKCON and took to this Krsna consciousness. Also Visvambhara participated in the programs by giving a little talk, and also by playing mrdanga. The local people are very charmed by him - his blue eyes, shaved head and blond shikha are very attractive to them....!
On one of these programs when sitting on the stage we suddenly heard a noise, and Vishoka Prabhu went missing with only his legs sticking up in the air - he had moved a little to the back and simply fell off the stage, not realising that the platform ended there...
With united forces we pulled him back up, all the while laughing and joking.
It was indeed an amusing part of the program.
On the next day when once again assembling for a program the entire stage collapsed, and our strongly built Ukrainian brahmacaris were falling into a big hole! In this part of the world the stage consists of several beds pushed together and covered by a cloth, and one of those beds was very old and collapsed under the unexpected load.
Vishoka Prabhu laughingly exclaimed in broken English: "Our bad karma with stage....!"
Bangladesh is probably the only country where such incident is taken with a charming smile and no feelings of embarrassment.....
Some days we were going on harinam - here we call it nagar kirtan. We went to all the Hindu's houses in the early morning, chanting outside their door step, and most of them happily welcomed us, giving donations in bhoga or money and requesting us to briefly enter their house and chant kirtan. Thus they feel their house to be purified.
Wherever we went on our tour people gave us a wonderful reception: welcoming us in Vaisnava hospitality, with conch shells blowing and flower pedals raining on us, accompanied by loud 'ululu' noises of the ladies. We were offered sumptious prasadam, garlands and generous donations, and we were seen off with affectionate smiles and enthusiastic kirtans.
The devotees here don't get so often the chance to receive foreign visitors and are thus always excited when somebody comes.
The highlight was a visit to the nearby bhajan kutir of Madhavendra Puri - the very original kutir!
We had to travel for ten kilometers on the back of a motor bike along a narrow path through rice fields, a river bed and jungle.
What an adventure! Needless to say: our Ukrainian boys were thrilled....!
The locals were warning us of poisonous snakes which are living now amongst the ruins.....
We could perceive a strong transcendental energy at this place - it was almost as if Madhavendra Puri's shakti was still preserved in these original stones, which were now overgrown by jungle.....
Today we can visit the original ruins of Jagannath Misra's residency, with the original stairs leading up to his house - the very same stairs which were touched by his Lotus feet....!
Another highlight was the Govardhana Puja Festival which we attended in Sylhet. In this part of the world we celebrate the festival in a very traditional way - as the lila describes in Krsna Book.
On this occasion we make a big hill of rice - the Anakuta, which Krsna instructed Nanda Maharaja to arrange and offer to Govardhana Hill, the cows and the brahmanas. We arrange for many clay pots with tasty preparations to be placed around the Anakuta. Here in Sylhet it came to around one thousand five hundred preparations. It was my greatest pleasure to line them all up on the big stage for the offering. We had made a chain of hands passing them along, and I was at the very end of this chain, crouching down on the floor and lining them up tightly.
I had to be very fast to keep up with the constant flow of arriving pots - it was indeed hard work....
On the top of the Anakuta we made a big smiling face of Krsna with various eatable items like shak, puris and fried vegetables. This reminds us of how Krsna Himself appeared in an unprecedented gigantic form in order to accept the offerings, shouting "aniore, aniore - give me more, give me more....!"
And Krsna had exclaimed to the inhabitants of Vrindavan: "Just see, this is Govardhana Hill, coming to accept your offerings! It just proves how Govardhana Hill is a person! Your Indra never came to accept your offerings, but Govardhana comes....!"
The devotees also had sculptured a clay murti of Krsna, and on a wooden board we had put some earth, twigs and greens to symbolize Govardhana Hill which Krsna was lifting on His little finger. We even made some cows and devotees to be placed underneath the hill, and a huge backdrop with a painting of Govardhana Hill perfected the festive arrangement.
This trick always works wonders.....
We also brought a small cow to the arena and offered puja, and everyone took great pleasure in feeding and cuddling her.
A joyful kirtan concluded the festivities, and our Ukrainian boys helped serving kichari prasadam to the many hundreds of people who had come to attend the festival.
Celebrating festivals in the traditional style deepens our meditation on Krsna's pastime......
On the 16th we arrived back in Dhaka - just in time for the celebration of Srila Prabhupada's disappearance....
Your servant, Devaki dd