By Deena Bandhu (das) ACBSP (Vrindavan – IN)
On the 31st of January we had an incredible procession for Srila Prabhupada’s and ISKCON’s entrance into the Vrindavan Kumbha Mela with Srila Prabhupada riding regally on an elephant. Now in previous Kumbha Melas since we got Lokanatha Maharaja as an offical Mahanta, we have our place in the procession to take bath. This was the first time in the history of Kumbha Mela that we had out own exclusive procession for Srila Prabhupada’s entrance into the Kumbha Camp.
Most people don’t realize that every twelve years, there is a Kumbha Mela in Vrindavan. Many years ago, the Shivites had attacked the Vaishnavas at the Haridwar Kumbha, so they decided that whenever there is Haridwar Kumbha, that the would do a Vaishnava Kumbha Mela in Vrindavan in the month of Phalguna a couple of months before the Haridwar Kumbha. At first I was a little disappointed when I saw that Vrindavan Temple was not making any plans to take part in the mela. But Jankinatha Prabhu came and inspired me, that at least from Vrinda Kunda, we should have our part in this purely Vaishnava Mela. So we got some land and set up a camp.
Then Jankinath came to me and said we have to do a procession for Srila Prabhupada’s entrance into the Kumbha Mela, which has never been done before. So in just a few days, he organized everything and aranged an elephant and that the Vaishnava Akharas would bring their flags and symbols in the procession. Many of the processions have 5 or 6 flag bearers, but we had 21. I was a little worried that there are not so many visiting devotees around at this time of year as devotees have just started coming. Then we had to convince His Holiness Lokanatha Swami to come as this was an historical event and he kindly agreed to break an engagement he previously had, so we are very grateful to him.
But it turned out to be an extremely glorious procession with so many devotees taking part, I have no idea where they all came from. It was beyond our wildest dreams! Everyone was drowned in the ocean of ecstasy. It was glorious to see Srila Prabhupada siting on this large decorated elephant, all the devotees were struck with wonder. Jankinath arranged a huge sound system so that the Holy Name resounded throughout Vrindavan. Most of the processions have bands, but we only had the Holy Names.
First all the Mahantas and flag bearers came and we fed them all breakfast prasadam. Then we brought the elephant to the front gate where he entered and sat down as if paying obeisances to Srila Prabhupada and we arranged him on the high seat. It was Sunday so there was a lot of traffic and we saw first hand how Vrindavan should be made into a “no car zone”. Then the flag and symbol bearers took their place in front of Srila Prabhupada with their colorful flags and we were on our way.
All the Brijbasis were astonished! Many places, they threw flower petals over the devotees and passed out garlands and chadars. The sadhus were also extremely happy. They all said this was the longest and best procession of the Kumbha Mela. In front of the procession were the Akharas or army who protect the sadhus dancing around with all their weapons. We went through all the major bazaars of Vrindavan and everyone was amazed. The ladies were dancing in ecstasy, twirling and whirling. The newspapers said that the ISKCON procession with Srila Prabhupada rocked the whole Vrindavan with the dancing foreign devotees as the cynosure! One devotee Gaura Mani mataji wrote on my Facebook page, “Deena Bandhu it was incredible. I never felt such happiness like this in my heart before!”
Finally we reached the ISKCON camp which had a beautiful gate with Radha Shyamsundar beaming down on all the pilgrims and Srila Prabhupada greeting everyone. There Srila Prabhupada was placed on a decorated Vyasasana. Then the two brothers from Krishna Balaram Jewelers in Loi bazaar who are brahmins and the tirtha purohits for Kumbha Mela conducted a very elaborate puja with Lokanatha Swami. Then a bhoga offering was made to the flags that are said to represent Hanuman, the best devotee of the Lord. Meanwhile Aindra and his group serenaded the devotees with his powerful majestic kirtan while we served lunch to all the assembled devotees and outside the camp we distributed pure ghee hot halevah prasad to all the pilgrims.
For those on Facebook you can see more pics at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php? aid=194752&id=787814837
Anyone who would like to help with prasad distribution can go to the Vrindavan ISKCON website: http://www.iskconvrindavandonation.com/donation.asp scroll down to the bottom and check other and write Kumbha Mela.
Vrindavan Kumbha Mela ki jaya! Harer Nama Sankirtan ki jaya! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!