Bengaluru, Dec. 29, 2017: ISKCON Bangalore witnessed a grand and ceremonious celebration of Sri Vaikuntha Ekadashi today.

The festivities started as early as 3 a.m. with suprabhata seva and mangala arati to Sri Srinivasa Govinda. The Lord then received an elaborate abhisheka with various items like milk, curds, ghee, honey, panchagavya, fruit juices, kalasha water, etc. The ceremony also included a special arati and shower of varieties of flowers.

Vaikuntha dwara program began at 5:45 a.m. It is a unique feature of Vaikuntha Ekadashi celebrations in the temples of Lord Vishnu. The Vaikuntha dwara was erected at the northern entrance of the main temple. The utsava Deities of Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra were dressed and decorated in an impressive Lakshmi Narayana alankara. As Their Lordships were taken on a pallakki towards Vaikuntha dwara in a grand procession to the accompaniment of Harinam sankirtana and traditional music of nadaswaram and drums, women devotees standing on either side of the procession route welcomed Their Lordships with lamps and flowers.    

Addressing the devotees assembled before the Vaikuntha dwara, Temple President His Grace Madhu Pandit Dasa said, “Our great acharyas have devised and designed wonderful festivals to give an opportunity for the devotees of the Lord to experience transcendental, spiritual and devotional pleasure. We are always searching after pleasure in the material world. There are mundane and divine pleasures. The animals cannot experience the divine pleasure. We, the human beings can experience divine pleasure. Divine pleasure is bhakti rasa, the rasa of our relationship with the Supreme Lord. In order to give us an opportunity to relate with Him in loving service, the Lord appears as archa-vigraha in the temples.”

He went on to say that, “There are two ways of living our life – one is to live with our karma without God and other is to live with God. The purpose of this Movement is to spread this bhagavata dharma of living in this world with God. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said that the way to learn to surrender to God is to chant His holy names.”  

As the curtains of Vaikuntha dwara opened with the blowing of conchshells and playing of nadaswaram and drums, devotees offered prayers to Their Lordships seated on Ananta Shesha by reciting the Venkatesha stotram. A puja was performed by offering flowers and other paraphernalia and a devotional song was sung.    

The other programmes at dawn included Nija Pada darshana and Tomala seva in the Srinivasa Govinda temple.

The temple was open for darshan from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. without break. Thousands of devotees visited the temple, sought the blessings of Sri Srinivasa Govinda and passed through the Vaikuntha dwara. The beautiful Deity of Sri Srinivasa Govinda in a dazzling alankara was a visual treat.    

Non-grain prasadam was distributed to all the visitors. Elaborate arrangements were made with the help of hundreds of volunteers with respect to various services and facilities offered to the temple visitors.

Other sevas offered to the Lord on this auspicious day included Laksharchana to Sri Srinivasa Govinda, Pushpanjali seva to Sri Sri Krishna Balarama, Krishna-Rukmini-Satyabhama kalyanotsava and finally Ekanta seva at night concluding the celebrations.

Laksharchana was performed from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. by two batches of devotees, each taking turns to chant 108 holy names of Lord Krishna while offering flowers to the Lord invoked in seven kalashas. Altogether over two lakh names of the Lord were chanted during Laksharchana. The temple offered, as in the previous years, to conduct free puja in the names of devotees who registered online for the same. This year 10,930 devotees had this seva performed in their names and received the blessings of the Lord. They were also given an opportunity to participate online in the archana.    

Srila Prabhupada Expo was organized on this occasion with a view to developing an awareness among the temple visitors, of the life and contributions of Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON. The expo included a display of Bhagavad-gita books by Srila Prabhupada in 50 languages (both Indian and foreign), books written by some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples about his life, accomplishments, anecdotes, memories, etc., and also a video presentation on his life and contributions.