By Nila Kamal das - 11.3 2017
Every year before the Gour Purnima festival, thousands of Gaudiya Vaisnavas assemble in the holy land of Santipur, the house of Advaita Acarya to celebrate the divine disappearance day of Srila Madhavendra Puri. This year the festival took place on the 9th of March and was celebrated with great pomp. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that one who on this auspicious day either serves or honours maha prasad, he will surely get love of Lord Govinda.
In 1989 the local Santipur authorities requested ISKCON, under the guidance of Jayapataka Swami to take responsibility for the festival. The first festival consisted of only a handful of devotees but now around 40,000 pilgrims honour prasad.
Prior to this Jayapataka Swami and Subhag Swami used to visit this place and soon after the local Mahanta at that time; Vijay Krishna Goswami became favourable towards ISKCON and thus decided that ISKCON should run the festival. The present Mahanta, the grandson of Vijay Krishna Goswami; Prasanta Goswami, still gives the same respect to ISKCON. This place is also very dear to our Srila Prabhupada. Before embarking on his mission to the West, he visited Advaita’s house and prayed for the blessings to fulfil his Guru Maharaj’s desire.
Back at ISKCON, devotees took prasad by seven in the morning and soon after left to Santipur. From there onwards was a series of wonderful lectures by many esteemed guests. Jayapataka Swami, Subhag Swami, Bhakti Nityananda Swami, BR Ambarish Swami, Prabhodananda Saraswati Swami and BR Sagar Swami were to name a few.
Kitchari prasad was served throughout the day till after 5pm. It was wonderful to see the leaders in our movement serving prasad to the locals, everyone who witnessed this also became enthusiastic to serve. At one point it was noted that the line for serving was bigger than the line for eating!
Jayapataka Swami gave a wonderful discourse on the glories of the Advaita Acarya and Madhavendra Puri. Another highlight of the event was when Subhag Swami spontaneously started a kirtan in the middle of his lecture. At the end of the kirtan, thousands of devotees were chanting and dancing with their arms raised in the air.
Special thanks goes to Kavicandra Swami who year after year encourages devotees from all around the world to participate in the celebration. Unfortunately this year he could not attend due to some other preaching functions elsewhere.The cooks who spent all of the previous night preparing the prasad also deserve particular praise. Without their selfless service the festival could not take place.
We pray to Madhavendra Puri and Advaita Acarya that we can continue to hold and expand this festival for the years to come.
Santipur Dham ki Jay
Madhavendra Puri ki Jay
Advaita Acarya ki Jay