Gaura Purnima heralds the New Year in the Gaudiya Vaishnava calendar. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared on this day in the evening, over 500 years ago in a place called Yogapitha in Mayapur, West Bengal, India. He was the tenth and youngest son of Sri Jagannatha Misra and Srimati Sachidevi. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took birth under a neem tree, hence fondly called Nimai.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was popularly known for his Sankirtana movement. Therefore, with an intention to spread the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, Harinam Sankirtana was held in the main temple hall by devotees at ISKCON Bangalore.
The Gaura Purnima festival was celebrated on March 23rd, 2016 at ISKCON Bangalore. It was a visual delight. The Utsavar Deities of Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga were taken on a Pallakki Utsav from the main temple hall escorted by devotees singing kirtan. They were then brought to the OAT (open air theatre), and the Maha-Abhisheka began.
The hall was resonating with blissful kirtan, Hare Krishna Mantra and Vedic hymns. The stage was bedecked with beautiful flower decorations. The center of attraction was the Utsavar Deities who were ready to receive the Maha-Abhisheka. His Grace Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, President, Sri Vasudev Keshav Dasa, Vice-President, and senior devotee Sri Naveen Krishna Dasa performed the Abhisheka.
The ceremony started with the Deities being anointed with the paste of white sesame seeds. They were then showered with Pancha-Gavya which is milk, ghee, curd, urine and dung of the cow, followed by Panchamrita that includes milk, curd, ghee, honey and jaggery water. Their Lordships were then sprinkled with Phalodaka, Pushpodaka and Ratnodaka Snana (fruits, flowers and nine gems). They were also bathed in a variety of luscious fruit juices, herbal and perfumed water.
The devotees then witnessed the Deities who were greased with turmeric paste and laced with garlands of Tulasi. An Arati was performed with different varieties of ghee lamps. There were 108 Kalashas that had holy water, and it was poured over the Deities. The celestial personalities were then showered with different varieties of flowers.
While the Deities were getting ready for Shayana Arati, the audience watched an audio-visual presentation. It included lectures by Srila Prabhupada about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Siksashtaka (eight verses composed by Him). Holy places in relation to His pastimes and Nitai-Gauranga Deities at different ISKCON centers around the world were also featured in the presentation.
The programme concluded with a grand Shayana Arati and Pallakki Utsava. Kailash, a youth wing member of ISKCON Bangalore said, “It has been a wonderful experience for me, Maha-Sankirtana is my favorite part of all the celebrations, because there is wonderful kirtan and dance, and we get to see Vedic customs and the kind of celebration, the joyous mood that would have been there 500 years ago.”