“Once again, it was party time in the Benelux region with a three day festival that included the official Vyasa Puja celebration and Queensday Harinama.
The Vyasa Puja was held in Radhadesh on Sunday, 29 April 2012. However, the excitement started days earlier with intense planning and preparations. Maharaj’s arrival in Belgium on Wednesday prompted an influx of disciples who decided to cash in on the nectar, as in the days leading up to the Vyasa Puja, Maharaj gave morning classes at the temple. He also spent many hours in a day walking around the castle and surrounding fields, using that time to bond with disciples.
The festival was inaugurated on Saturday evening with a disciple program which included an ice-breaker, 30 minutes of mellow bhajan by Maharaj and two dramas enacted by the students of Bhaktivedanta College. The evening ended there for some but not for those who began transforming the Radhadesh Community Hall into a landscape of Vrndavan. It took all night but the successful end result made it worth all the effort.
On Sunday morning, Maharaj led the Guruvastakam prayers at Mangal Aarti, in a packed temple room. Disciples, overwhelmed by the special significance of the day, danced enthusiastically and the celebratory mood continued at Guru Puja when Maharaj led the kirtana once again. In the Caitanya Caritamrta class that followed, Maharaj gave many personal instructions where he encouraged devotees reaffirm themselves to spiritual life.
Shortly after the morning class, the Vyasa Puja began with a traditional foot-bathing ceremony. Many of the disciples then shared their heart-felt offerings of gratitude to Maharaj after which he addressed the audience in response to what was said. A Vyasa Puja book containing homages from disciples all over the world was presented to Maharaj. An ecstatic Guru Puja and kirtana followed and finally, a feast ‘fit for royalty’ was served out.
At 5 pm that day, an initiation ceremony was performed in the temple room where 9 devotees received first initiation and 4 second. Beautiful names were given like Antardvipa das, Godruma das, Jaya-Radhika dd, Matsya das and Surabhi dd, to mention a few. Another ecstatic kirtana brought the day’s proceedings to an end for some of the devotees, while others joyfully entered the kitchen to prepare prasadam-packs for the next morning’s bus journey to Amsterdam, for the Queensday Harinama.
Two double-decker buses departed Radhadesh at 5.30 am and the ride to Amsterdam took about 4 hours. Queensday is a national public holiday in Holland, in celebration of the birthday of the Queen. It’s a day when locals engage in street parties and dress creatively in orange, which is their national colour. In keeping with the spirit, devotees adorned themselves in orange garments which didn’t take too much effort from the bramacharis!
The Harinama started from Amsterdam temple at 11 am. HH Kavicandra Swami joined the party and the other main kirtana leaders present were: HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, HG Kripa Moya Prabhu (UK), HG Vidyavichaspati Prabhu (CZ), HG Vraja Krsna Prabhu (SA) and Bhakta Prahlad (CZ). The Harinama party consisted of approximately 200 devotees which included many accompanying musicians on accordion, mrdanga, djembe, whompers and kartals. Devotees took a 90 minute lunch break at a site in the middle of Amsterdam where a tent and stage was set-up, and during this time the kirtana continued on-stage. The fantastic Harinama ended at 7 pm at Amsterdam temple, from where it started. Devotees boarded the buses there and returned to Radhadesh at around midnight.
On Tuesday morning, devotees bid farewell to each other and started to journey back to their respective countries. Not only did this Vyasa Puja and Queensday festival provide the opportunity to show our love and appreciation for Maharaj, but it also served as a meaningful team-building exercise for all the those who participated.
The festivities go on this coming weekend as devotees from all over Europe, including Maharaj, congregate at the Nrshimacalam farm in Passau (near Munich) in celebration of Nrshima Caturdasi (4-6 May).”
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