In a letter to devotees in Boston, Srila Prabhupada had famously written in 1969: “Regarding festivals in Boston, you may hold as many as possible. If you can hold such festivals daily, that is also nice. Our movement is for ananda, simply bliss, and the method of pushing this movement is chanting, dancing, feasting and philosophizing.”
Bliss it was. The combined celebration of the Panihati Cida-dahi and Snana-yatra festivals organized by ISKCON Seshadripuram at the Dodda Gosai Ghat at Srirangapatna happened in grand fashion on the first day of July, 2018. When two thousand enthusiastic devotees converge upon one place, all determined to partake of the bliss and mercy overflowing in abundance, the result would be what unfolded on the banks of Mother Kaveri that Sunday morning. You had to be there to experience the bliss, which is indescribable using mere words.
No corner of the ghat and the platforms remained unoccupied or devoid of any activity. From a stall to distribute welcome drinks, to a “May I Help You?” corner, to a books and paraphernalia counter, to the kirtana platform, to the large tent housing hundreds, to the visual team’s desk, to the kitchen, to the vegetable cutting area, to the vessels washing quarter, to the prasadam tables, to the glistening waters, to the thick flora beyond and to the coconut-frond altar that housed the gorgeously decked Deities, everything was arranged with one idea: providing bliss to the senses, mind and soul of every living entity that was present.
In the previous weeks, the organizing team had spent anxious days in trying to fix a chief-guest for the celebrations. Fittingly so, His Holiness Jayapataka Swami, the GBC for South India and an extraordinary personality on the whole planet, addressed the large gathering through the subtle medium of video conferencing, just as Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had subtly appeared in the midst of the devotees at Panihati, five hundred years ago. His Holiness did what he does best: invoking bliss into the hearts of devoted souls.
When the ceremonial bathing of the Deities began, there was little indication that Indra, the devata in-charge of rains, would also want participate. Light showers that did not hinder the proceedings, were an auspicious indication of the Lord being pleased with the entire event. Devotees gathered around the Deity platform in the middle of the gentle waters, like petals around the whorl of a lotus flower. Sri Sri Nitai-Chaitanya were ceremoniously bathed in the waters of Mother Kaveri, both from the top with conchshells and from below by hundreds of divine palms lovingly splashing the river’s waters. What transpired was Bliss Unlimited.
With all the senses—eyes, ears, noses, and skin—having feasted on the beautiful forms of the Lord, on the reverberating holy names, on the divine scents thickly filling the air, on the gentle breeze and the loving touches of spiritual comrades, the tongues thirsted for its rightful feast: mahaprasadam. A mini-pandemonium at the start of the feast seemed the least hindrance in devotees relishing the bliss on their plates to the last morsel. Literally! Passions ran high at the outset, but compassion took over for good. Everyone left with heavy hearts, not wanting to leave. This was a festival to be savored for life.
Remember! “Our movement is for ananda, SIMPLY BLISS!”