Preaching and Bhoga Collection Programmes
Malini Devi Dasi from Malta gains some insight to what goes on behind the scenes leading up to the celebration of Gaura Purnima festival, and shares the experience of travelling through Bengali villages on such preaching and collection programmes.
Finally we reach Chandradwip, not far from Tisha where we had breakfast and met Karttik Prabhu. Again, we have a long way to walk to the house of Karttik Prabhu, who is the youngest of many sons. Sripad Acharyya Maharaj makes a few stops along the way. We make our way along a winding road through narrow streets, across a bridge and finally into a large courtyard.
Maharaj is led to sit down to accept offerings from the many guests that have been waiting. Along one side of the courtyard is the house, the front of which has an elevated veranda, at the customary height of just two steps from the ground. At the end of this veranda, an altar is set up with pictures of the deities of Nabadwip and Srila Gurudev beneath a canopy decorated with what Westerners would refer to as Christmas decorations. At the end of the courtyard, just beside the altar, is a beautiful Tulasi tree growing within a specially-made area.
On the left side, an open kitchen is busy. Bipul Krishna Prabhu had left our preaching party after lunch prasadam to come and cook the feast for this gathering. All the open kitchens I have seen are built of the cow-dung and mud mixture that results in a very smooth, clean and solid material when dry. Cooking areas have holes with elevated sides in which open fires burn. A special technique of how to place the wood inside the hole and use of sand determines how big the flame will be for cooking.
It is not long before arati begins, followed by the rest of the programme. The bhajans go on for a very long time and are particularly lively. Maharaj, Sudev Prabhu and Bipul Prabhu take turns at leading. Many of the people present know the songs. Conch shells can be heard every now and then. The atmosphere is wonderful.
The gathered crowd grows bigger and bigger, and stays to hear the lecture delivered by Sripad Acharyya Maharaj, who with his method of inserting a few verses from different songs here and there, keeps the atmosphere lively and the audience very interested.
Finally the projector is set up to play the Gaura Purnima 2006 DVD, and the 150 or so people remain attentive till the very end of the show. Everybody seems very happy and satisfied, and the people who have no flyer by the end of the evening are asking for one. Certainly a very successful programme, expertly organised by the dedicated hosts.
Prasadam is served at around 10pm and by 11pm we are on the bus back to Nabadwip. It had been planned to stay the night and travel in the early morning, but Sripad Acharyya Maharaj's commitments are such that he needs to be in Nabadwip first thing in the morning. We are so tired from three days' travelling and preaching that the bus only carries sleeping people on the way back. The journey appears to pass in a jiffy.
Surprisingly, everybody seems to stir just as we arrive in Nabadwip, so that we are all happy to welcome the majestic buildings of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math coming within our vision. We all look forward to some rest, so that we can continue our service jobs the next day. And it is only a few days before a team will go forth again on a similar mission!
Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
http://scsmath.com | Main Centres | What's New?