Govardhana Puja Celebration Fun
I was hoping to post something this morning, which here in America is Govardhana Puja day. It obviously didn't happen. Even though there are some articles on the front page about this day, I was inspired to share a few personal things with you about my day in preparation for this joyful and uplifting festival.
I had to sleep in a bit because I haven't taken my quota for the last few days, and it was wearing on me. As much as sleep is ignorance we still need it to stay healthy and in good spirits. I do push the envelop at times, but I always pay for it.
So I rose by 5:30 AM, and went downstairs for one of my important winter activities, namely putting wood in our wood stove. There is nothing that warms like wood heat, and for my wife, who has a body that is always cold, a blazing fire is greatly appreciated. That always gives me points in her "emotional bank account".
Then to shower and get ready for chanting and my daily Deity seva (worship). I didn't go to the main Temple this morning. I have been waking the Deities at the Temple here for the last year and a half, though I have gradually reduced it, first to 5 days a week, and by next month I will do 2 days. I have spoken about my changing direction in life on other blogs.
Before chanting I did get distracted from my original plans for the morning (what else is new?). I have been making a concerted effort to study the Bhagavad-gita, as I want to begin a blog series on all 18 chapters. In addition to Shrila Prabhupada's "As it is" Gita which is really my "foundational" version, I also have number of ancient and modern Gaudiya commentaries. I am finding this gives me a fascinating way to dive deep into the nectar of Krishna's immortal, illuminating words. So my few minutes turned into a few hours.
I felt great about my reading and I thought deeply about the verses I studied. At the same time as I looked at my remaining time, I wasn't sure I could accomplish everything I had to do. However, I have experienced that things always work out-- somehow.
After I chanted my "japa" (of the Hare Krishna mantra on beads) I bathed my Shilas (sacred stones), including my small Govardhana shila,
and then began cutting up the vegys for a feast "prep". I made one of my specialties: eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and chick peas. It is great with curd also, but someone else was putting curd in their subji (vegy) prep.
I cooked the eggplant in one 4 gallon pot, the zucs and tomatoes in another, and then combined them along with the cooked chick peas. I did have enough time to finish cooking, clean the kitchen, and prepare Radha Gopinatha and my 4 shilas to go to the Temple for the offering.
Today I got to hold both Radha and Gopinatha while my wife drove.
I wish I would had a picture taken, as my head was in the middle of the Divine couple as we all rode in the back seat. I have over the years had so many nectar "pastimes" with various Deities. As our dear friend Bhakti-tirtha Swami used to say,
"I am blessed by the best".
We arrived at the Temple and put all the Deities in their places on the altar. Then I made up the Deities food plate, and made the offering. Next I had to prepare for the main arotik tray, go-seva (worship of the cows) tray, and another arotik tray for the worship of Govardhana hill (which has been beautifully made according to maps we had).
So one after another we went though the various ceremonies. Krishna conscious festivals and ceremonies are really very simple. The most important ingredient is our love and devotion in which we saturate, or try to saturate, all these activities. The many details are meant to foster our goal: we are simply trying to please and serve Krishna. As devotees, Krishna is our ultimate object of affection, and every festival centers on different ways to do that.
When I am offering an arotik, I meditate on doing it on behalf of all the devotees. I feel like I am dancing as I wave the worship paraphernalia (incense, lamp, water, handkerchief, flower, chamara) before the various forms of God, as the altar is sort of a "stage", high up and beautifully adorned with the lovely Deities, flower vases, carved altar and so many esthetically attractive items.
Admittedly, I love the pomp of it, and feel at home with the Deities on the altar. At the same time I have the contrary feeling of being unqualified to be there (and in front of the devotees), yet I know from so many years of experience that the Deities are mercifully present to accept our service. Besides, they always give me service to do--even unsought, and frankly it is just too much nectar to miss.
Some devotees say they feel too unqualified to go on the altar, but I say that is why they should do Deity seva. The Deities are not out to "get us" for some discrepancy, and then throw us "in the lake of fire" forever. We should try our best to follow the standards---yet no one is perfect compared to the devotees in the spiritual realm.
And so we progressed though the arotiks, puppet show, class on the Govardhana lila, and then, of course, many courses of Krishna prasadum, or spiritual food offered to the Deities.
If we boil down the festival it is really dependent on having devotees focus on a common goal which is the foundation for everything else. I was appreciating that today, since the whole community came together. When we serve together we have Deity worship, and many different preps to offer them--and then the devotees, and of course we have ecstatic kirtanas.
During prasad we sit together for "fellowship" with devotee friends, and with some newcomers as well. In kirtana and prasad, there are no "other" camps. We are one (though we may sit at different tables).
Another satisfying day in Krishna consciousness. These festivals are very special. All the regular processes are heightened. Although some of us are fortunate to serve the Deities, chant the holy name, associate with devotees, and hear the scriptures everyday, on these holy days, devotional activities are more focused for the specific occasion, and are even more sweet. The Lord kindly reciprocates on these days for any service we render.
After prasad there are bhajanas, or sweet chanting. While that is going on my wife and I get ready to bring the Deities back to our home, and I put the Temple murtis of Prabhupada and his guru Bhaktisiddhanta to rest. I finish up by preparing the worship trays for the next morning.
Then we make the short drive back home, and put the Deities on their home altar. We come back to a crisis call which my wife takes. Such is the nature of doing counseling work. We will see the couple in a few days. In our life of service we wear many hats.
I go upstairs to log on here and share my day with you. I hope you had a blessed day today, and that you were able to observe Govardhana puja and think deeply about its' meaning. These festivals are a meant to inspire us with the spirit and knowledge of Krishna consciousness.
To know Krishna, is to love him!!
So learn about Krishna as much as you can, so you will want to serve him as much as you can!! That is the real life of the soul, which we practice here and now! To Krishna and our eternal life, only time is separating us!