Hosting Dignitaries at Ramanavami
By Zayani Bhatt
The local Mayor and Mayoress of Hertsmere with The Ramayan cast, members of the Bhaktivedanta Players drama group.
It was fitting that on the hottest day of the year so far Bhaktivedanta Manor celebrated Ramanavami, the birthday of Lord Ram, who was born in the sun dynasty, several millennia ago.
This year, the auspicious festival was celebrated on Sunday 9th April and the Manor played host to a number of dignitaries, including first citizen, Counsellor Peter Rutledge, the Mayor of Hertsmere.
The special guests were treated to mojitos, trifle and an array of delectable canapés such as carob tart, vegetable puff and kachoris. Most of the luminaries had visited the temple on numerous occasions beforehand as Counsellor Victor Eni of Hertsmere said, “I love coming here and seeing how much the community has progressed since I was last here.”
After the guests were welcomed, they were invited outside to give a speech and Mayor Rutledge, took the opportunity to thank volunteers at the Manor saying, “it is their tireless work each time that helps bring the Indian community together on important festivals.”
The Mayor had decided that during his Mayoral year, money raised from the people of Hertsmere would be donated to worthwhile causes within the local community and he recently donated to Gratitude, a local charity organised by Japa Yajna and Shantasya.
Member of Parliament Bob Blackman, who has been coming to the Manor for the last 30 years spoke with pride about his pleasure that the “temple’s future is secure” thanks to the Haveli. Much of the Manor’s success in getting this far with the Haveli is thanks to support from significant members of society.
In this vein, Kripamoya Das thanked servicemen and members of parliament for their dedication serving society, poignant on the birthday of Lord Ram who dedicated his life to serve the citizens of Ayodhya, as the ‘Maryada Purshottam’, or ideal man. Temple president Srutidharma das thanked the counsellors for their kind words and reminded the assembled devotees that the message for the festival was the importance of helping others.
Then, as temple president Srutidharma Das counted down, their Lordships Shri Krishna and Srimati Radharani were brought out from the temple room and seated in a large, gorgeously decorated swan. A procession of devotees carried the swan around the Manor three times, to the sounds of joyous and melodious kirtan led by the brahmacharis.
The special guests were given the opportunity to shower the deities with fresh rose petals. Following the procession, they were treated to a performance of the Ramayana by the Bhaktivedanta Players and indulged in a beautiful kirtan session by Balarama Das in the George Harrison garden. As Kripamoya Das thanked the notable counsellors for their patronage and support of the temple, they were gifted with special handmade cupcakes.