Bhakti Ballabh Puri Maharaj and His Shaligrams

Leicester Yatra Visits Karuna Bhavan

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(by Bhakta Preyesh)
On Friday 29th January a few members of the Leicester yatra went to the Lesmahagow temple in Scotland, Karuna Bhavan, to attend the installation of Srimati Vrinda devi and the bathing of over 10,000 Saligram Silas.

The day of the installation ceremony was very auspicious. It was Lord Nityananda's appearance day. This was going to be the first time ever that Srimati Vrinda devi had been installed in the west. Not only was it going to be the first time ever this kind of ceremony was going to take place, but it would be the first time ever that Srimati Vrinda devi would have left Vraja Bhumi! This was going to be a very historic day for the Karuna Bhavan temple.

His Holiness Bhakti Bhalab Puri Goswami Maharaj conducted the beautiful ceremony in the presence of Their beautiful lordships Sri Sri Koda-Nitai Mayapur-shasha (presiding deities at Karuna Bhavan) and a ram-packed temple room full of devotees.

The beautiful ancient mantras recited by Puri Maharaj were accompanied by the blowing of conch shells, ringing of small hand bells, and the beautiful congregational kirtan. The deity came from Vrindanvan, where the only temple of Srimati Vrinda devi is.

The deity at Scotland of Srimati Vrinda devi is exactly how her form is described in the shastra, with a golden-red hue etc. After the ceremony was completed, the deity was shown to the congregation, and she was looking even more beautiful after the ceremony had been so nicely conducted.

The next day was Saturday 30th January. This was the day of the bathing of the amazing number of over 10,000 Saligram Silas. I had never had darshan of one Saligram Sila, and now I was going to have a rare chance of having darshan of them, not only that, the devotees at Karuna Bhavan were going to witness the first ever known bathing of over 10,000 Saligram Silas (the largest number of Saligram Silas known to be worshiped in one place).

First, the main largest Saligram Sila, the pradhana Sila, was going to be bathed along with the other silas. This was going to be the first part of the bathing ceremony, and it was conducted by Puri Maharaj. The main Sila had no name, so Puri Maharaj asked the devotees present to think of a name which could be used to call the sila. Many names were suggested, like for example Lesmahagow Nath etc. Even though many names were suggested, a final name was not chosen yet.

After this part of the ceremony was completed, we then moved across to the Gouranga Ashram, which is next door to the temple. This was going to be the ceremony where all 10,000 Silas were going to be bathed all at once. H.H. Puri Maharaj was now conducting the ceremony, bathing the Silas with auspicious waters from the temple's very own natural water supply, from the wells, and holy waters from Vrindavan and other holy places. This ceremony was conducted in a very small room in the ashram and devotees watched from widows and from anywhere they could!

After the ceremonies had been completed, over 10,000 Tulsi leaves were offered to the Silas and so were over 10,000 sweets. And there was plenty of carinamrita from the bathing ceremony afterwards! 

This was the most beautiful weekend I can ever recall. I was glad to have had an opportunity to go to Karuna Bhavan, where I and the devotees present witnessed two of the most sacred events in the young history of devotional service to KRSNA in the western world.


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The abhisheka bathing ceremony of over 10,008 Saligram Silas