I sent this out to a number of devotees who for one reason or another couldn't be there at the festival and to also explain why I hadn't responded to e-mail correspondence from my web-sites/newsletters:
Okay so this is what I was up to the last week, or at least arranging for it, going around buying all the ingredients, setting it all up and then ready to open the new temple, move the Deities in and do some yajnas there too..................we had in attendance; Sri Sriyuts HH Jayapataka swamin, Prabha-vishnu swamin (GBC for Australasia), Indradyumna swamin, Ramai swamin (co-GBC), Bhakti-visram-madhav swamin, Devamrita swamin (co-GBC), Hari Sauri prabhu ACBSP, all the Australian Temple Presidents; Aniruddha from Melbourne, Atmarama ACBSP from Sydney, Ajita prabhu from Murwillumbah, Tirtharaj prabhu from Brisbane, former TP of Christchurch and Auckland Alalanath prabhu ACBSP, present TPs and managers of New Varshan (Auckland temple farm) Jaya Sila prabhu ACBSP and Kalasambhava prabhu ACBSP, Hanuman prabhu, TP of Christchurch, and about 1000 other devotees. It was incredible.
I was in charge of all the moving of the Deities, organizing all the VIPs to carry the Deities to the vehicles and to bring the Deities into the new temple and oversee the bathing/abhishek, as well as the installation of Sudarshan chakra and flag and kalashs on the roof and various yajnas in the temple room.
I guided Hari Sauri prabhu through the dhyan for installing Sudarshan into the sacred waters that later we'd bathe the Deities and do prokshaniyam of inside and outside the temple and pour those waters over the temple spire, chakra, flag and main kalashas about the high points of the temple. The process goes something like this; I recite one mantra that describes Sudarshan with His 1000 arms, so many weapons, fangs as teeth, flames as a tongue, kagul around His eyes, mekhala belt, ankle bells, so many things, and it makes a visual image in the mind, well then using a flower to transfer that image we that was invoked in the mind we drop that flower into 200 litres of water and recite Sudarshan gayatri over it. We then installed the Sudarshan chakra and did about ten nyasa homas to Sudarshan invoking His protective presence. In the afternoon Ramai swami, Prabhavishnu swami, and Devamrita swami, as well as former headmaster of the Gurukul Bhava prabhu, and Kalasambhava ACBSP assisted in the bathing of the Chakra,Dwaj and Kalashas on the roof.
The next day we brought the Deities down from the old temple to the new one, about one kilometer down to the back of the property. There were devotees in front, devotees behind and devotees by the road side all chanting Hare Krishna, some making offerings as we went. In the very front car was our resident Police officer in his police car, Rasik prabhu TKG giving a police escort with flashing lights, and behind him was the front car of the procession with Big Srila Prabhupad with Jagannath Baladev Subhadra in the back of the car with a couple of pujaris fanning Them, as the temperature was pleasantly in the high 20s C (27-29 C). In the next vehicle, a convertible sports car of one Indian congregational member rode Gaura Nitai assisted by a few pujaris holding Them and some fanning Them. The next car was small Srila Prabhupad and two sets of Radha Krishna utsav Deities for the 1008 Kalash maha-abhishek that evening, where we had got over 1008 sponsors for different quality kalashas (gold, silver, copper) they can bathe the Lord on special snan-vedis.
By the Lord's mercy I was on the horse drawn coach with Radha and Giridhari, Who we had to have sitting opposite each other as They would in Their real jhulan festivals in Vraj so They can look at each other. My service was to help hold Radharani with Kalasambava prabhu, on the other seat was Indradyumna swami and Jaya Sila prabhu holding Giridhari. The Deities are over three feet tall (about one meter) made of solid marble, so They are very heavy in weight. Hari Sauri and Ajita prabhu were on one side of the coach and Ramai swami and Jayapataka swami on the other, and all manner of Radha Krishna katha was being told...... Then a big black bumble bee flew onto the coach circled the Deities a few times, hovering in front of Radharani and then Giridhari and then settled on Giridhari's garland - Hari Sauri prabhu then mentioned how a similar thing once happened in Mayapur with Prabhupad there, to which Prabhupad said this was very auspicious sign. The journey down the road was wonderful and smooth, and when we got to the temple there were hundreds of devotees there many many Indian matajis chanting Gujarati songs to Radha Giridhari and throwing rose petals and rose water. Just then another big black bumble bee landed on Srimati Radharani as we carried Her to the temple up the steps, as the last Deity entered into the temple devotee came and told me that it was raining with the Sun shining (divya-snan).
Prabhu the next part I cannot even describe in words. We had four snan vedis in the new Deity room, I appointed one devotee to fill and pour liquids from a kalash and another to hold a big Laxmi conch, except on Prabhupada's snan-vedi where he was bathed with kalash only by his dedicated servant Hari Sauri prabhu, assisted by Christchurch temple president Hanuman prabhu. Tirtharaj, Auckland head pujari Narad-rishi prabhu and head pujari from Melbourne Murari Chaitanya were looking after Gaura Nitai, Alalanath prabhu and Anirudha prabhu and Atmarama prabhu, and BVM maharaj were looking after Jagannath's snan-vedi. Indradyumna swami, Devamrita swami, Jaya Sila prabhu and Kalasambhava prabhu were all around the central snan-vedi of Radha-Giridhari. I was handing all the various sodasa upacharas to Jayapataka swami for him to offer to each set of Deities prior to the actual bathing, and then the bathing began. Pure waters to begin with, then Panch-gavya, Panchamrita (milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar water) then rose waters, scented waters with musk of Ratnarani (night queen), Bakool flowers, fragrant Mogra oils placed into the waters, fruit juice bath; dark grape juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, orange juice and apple juice, then five kinds of fragrant herbs and spices bathed through the sahasra dhar with cool waters, then warm waters, then Ganges water, then rose water again and finally the protective Sudarshan tattwa homa waters, Ramanuja prabhu passing each item to me in the sequence I placed them.
After the bathing the Deities were dried and dressed in towels and the bathing sets cut up and thrown out to the hundreds of devotees eagerly chanting in the temple room. The curtains closed for a few minutes while devotees then dressed the Deities into a simple but decorative night set so that the Lord could quickly receive Their super opulent Raj-bhoga offering that was just completed in Their new Deity kitchen. The floor was cleaned and Their new marble tables filled with preps, but also all the floor was covered in many many preparations and offered to the Lord. After some time we handed the first of those dry food prasadams to Jayapataka swami and he began to distribute them over the balustrade to the eager sea of devotee hands waving upward to receive it. This went on with all of us also helping and all the Lord maha-prasadam off Their plates being distributed.
We then did prayascitt homas, and the Iskcon mangal archana homa to cover for any inconveniences we may have caused the Deities over the last few days, and begged Their blessings and forgiveness. The atmosphere by now completely transcendentally surcharged; numerous devotees including Hari Sauri prabhu, Kalasamvara prabhu, Jaya Sila prabhu, Bhava prabhu, Alalanath prabhu and myself al said it was one of the most memorable and truly life altering moments of our devotional careers.
What more can I say............ There's other stories too like the lady who gave a $70,000 donation to fix the road all around the temple, the Mayor of the district, President of local Hindu temples, ASB Trust bank who donated $250,000 toward the community aspect of the project for the prasadam hall, etc, and other groups all spoke so nicely, it was such a buzz.
The entire mood of the place is just like Vrindavan, the temple overlooks the estuary, and in itself "is a million dollar view" as they say. The breeze that comes from the estuary is so refreshing, you have to visit to really appreciate what has been done here, it is something special, really special. I humbly yet boldly declare that there's no doubt that Prabhupad would be pleased (this was said by many devotees, but in particularly by Atmananda prabhu ACBSP, eyes full of tears and quivering chin and lips.......
Yesterday I also did the first initiation ceremony there for one disciple of Indradyumna swami and four disciples of Mukunda maharaj, with him there.
I have to go back next week to do a wedding for disciples of Mukunda maharaj.
There were many pictures taken, we may get hold of some soon, will share if you like, pretty inspirational stuff........
I believe Janananda prabhu ACBSP is to write an article for the BTG (Back to Godhead magazine)
Trusting this finds you well in every respect.
I beg to remain, yours in the humble service of the Lord and His devotees.
Shubh dinam astu or Have a Nice Day
* Purohit JAya Tirtha ChAran dAsan
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svasty astu vishvasya khalah prasidatäm
dhyäyantu bhütäni shivam mitho dhiyä
manash cha bhadram bhajatäd adhokshaje
äveshyatäm no matir apy ahaituki
"May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious
persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing
bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each
otherís welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme
transcendence, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought
(Srimad Bhagavatam 5:18:9.)