Written by Ragalekha dd

After landing in South Africa on 01 September and spending a week in Cape Town, Kadamba Kanana Swami and Nimai travelled to Durban on Thursday (08 September) accompanied by a host of disciples including international visitors: Gita Govinda (Netherlands), Prasanatma Prabhu (Belgium) and Harinamananda (Australia).

Vibhu Caitanya Das fetched Maharaj from the airport and they made their 55 km journey to the Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha Temple. A group of devotees waited in the car park to receive Maharaj and upon reaching the temple, Maharaj acknowledged the reception and immediately went to his room to convalesce and was not seen again for that day.

Meanwhile the temple was a buzz in preparation for the celebration of Radhastami! Festivals in Durban are known to be a spectacle but, unlike Janmastami which attracts many thousands of people and is crowded & chaotic, Radhastami is for the devotees; it is a sweet and intimate affair.

Radhastami Morning

Despite it being a working day (09 September), mangal aarti attracted a large crowd and HH Bhakti Nrsimha Swami led a spirited rendition of Guruvastakam. Harinamananda led devotees in twirls around the temple room while others just stood still, spellbound by the appearance of Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha in their first of three new outfits for the day. Sometimes I get so enamored by very fancy dressing and decor that I almost forget to look at the Lord, but it wasn’t the case here. The blue, white and gold ensemble was a perfect balance of simplicity and a class act.

As the curtains closed it was announced, amongst other things, that Kadamba Kanana Swami was to give classes at 11:30 and 19:30. The devotees said a big HARIBOL in response to the announcement, as many still had not seen Maharaj since his arrival the previous day!

The festive spirit continued during Tulasi Puja as Nadiya Godrume led the kirtan. Afterward many devotees left to go to work, etc. while others began chanting japa. A courteous announcement was made that japa in the temple room should be done in a meditative mood, and those who wish to pace and chant really loud should do so outside. Devotees very gracefully accepted the request and by the scores circumambulated the temple on the lower level, around the moat. Those who remained in the temple room, took their seats around Tulasi Devi and chanted softly.  

Guru Puja took place at 7am and was followed by a short class given by Bhakti Nrsimha Swami. It was at this time that Kadamba Kanana Swami made his way to the temple room. Bhakti Nrsimha Swami started off by singing Sri Radhika Stava by Rupa Goswami, ‘Radhe-Jaya-Jaya-Madhava-Dayite.’ Then he went on to share the pastimes of Radharani’s appearance in Raval and her blindness as a baby which disappeared upon seeing Krsna! As 8am approached and the time for Greeting Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha, Bhakti Nrsimha Swami quickly ended his class and jestfully said that if there were any questions related to his class, they could be asked to Kadamba Kanana Swami at this 11 am class!

As the conchshell blew and with ‘govindam adi purusam’ playing in the background, the curtains opened to give another mesmerizing sight of Their Lordships in their second new outfit, and the highly anticipated darshan of Srimati Radharani’s lotus feet. I would fail in my attempt to describe how beautiful and sophisticated Their Lordship’s looked in their pale blue and yellow dress, which was perfectly complemented by scattered pink flowers, so I shall just attach a picture… It was without a doubt my favourite darshan of the day!

Kadamba Kanana Swami was given the microphone ‘to chant a bit’ while devotees drank in the sight of the Lords, however very quickly, it erupted into a fully-fledged KKS kirtan with devotees flying across the temple room. The response to seeing and hearing Maharaj for the first time since April could be likened to receiving a drop of water after a prolonged thirst. It was just ecstatic!

Thereafter, there was break in the schedule and the program continued at 10:30am with the abishek ceremony. The temple room filled to capacity once again as Their Lordships were bathed in many auspicious items. In his address to the audience that followed, Maharaj emphasized a commitment to devotional service. He also shared sweet pastimes of Krsna, Radharani, Abhimanyu and the famous Jatila & Kutila.

After the midday aarti, a big feast was served to the devotees. The huge turnout meant waiting as long as 45 minutes in the queue for prasadam however, the time served well to catch up with devotee friends whom one had not seen for a long time. Intermittent rain created some challenges but was also appreciated amidst the severe drought being experienced in South Africa.

 Radhastami Evening

The evening festivities commenced at 7pm with Gaura Aarti and darshan of Their Lordships in their third new outfit. The black and red Spanish themed dress was sheer royal elegance. Well done to the pujaris and décor teams for some of the most spectacular darshans you are likely to see.

Two theatrical performances, Transcendence and Radha Dasya, were scheduled to take place in the amphitheater earlier in the day but it didn’t happen due to the rain, so these were slotted in before and after the evening class by Kadamba Kanana Swami. Transcendence was a very entertaining drama that portrayed Vrindavan consciousness by means of song and dance. Radha Dasya drew parallels between serving the Divine Couple in the spiritual world to preaching activities in the material world. The Spanish themed featured in the play as well with Radharani and the gopis wearing flamenco skirts, and the rasa dance featuring the paso doble! It was a very well executed performance with a good script and costumes.

And that brought to an end a very fulfilling Radhastami celebration…

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