Ram Navami & Vyasa Puja Festival Report

On the bank of river Brahmaputra, the city of Goalpara, Assam (India) was inundated with devotion during the three day Vyasa Puja – Ram Navami Festival. Goalpara is the birth-place of Most Revered Srila Gurumaharaj – His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj, Acharya President- Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math; Founder- Gokul (Global Organization of Krishnachaitanya's Universal Love) and President- WVA (World Vaishnava Association). Devotees from all over India and abroad were present there to bless themselves with the rarest opportunity of celebrating Vyasa Puja of Srila Gurumaharaj at His birth place for the first time in His divine presence! Devotees with great joy gave a grand reception to Srila Gurumaharaj with sankirtan upon His arrival at Goalpara on 26 March. At first He went to pay obeisances at Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math – Sree Sree Guru Gauranga Radha Damodar Temple established by His Gurudeva. Then He went to inaugurate the temple constructed at His birth place. The temple built on Hulukanda Hill is the Shiva temple where Srila Gurumaharaj used to perform worship in His childhood. The temple is now renowned as 'Tirtheshwar Mahadeva Mandir'.

As per desire of Srila Gurumaharaj, the temple of His Gurudeva Nityalilapravishtha Om Vishnupad 108 Sree Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhav Goswami Maharaj was also inaugurated there. Addressing the devotees on the joyous occasion, Srila Gurumaharaj, with total humility, glorified the Holy site as the place where His Gurudeva came and rescued Him from total darkness and ignorance. In the sankirtan hall there are beautiful depictions of divine pastimes of Srila Gurumaharaj right from His childhood. Devotees also got the opportunity to visit His school, Library where He first read 'Jaiva Dharma' by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur and other places of pastimes of Srila Gurumaharaj.

On 27 March Sree Ram Navami Tithi and the Holy appearance day of Srila Gurumaharaj, Vyasa Puja celebrations were held at 'Hari Sabha' from 10 am. This is the holy place where Srila Gurumaharaj had darshan and heard harikatha of His Gurudeva for the first time. Arati of Srila Gurumaharaj was performed amidst sankirtan by devotees with great enthusiasm. Srila Gurumaharaj then narrated a few instances of His conversation with His Gurudev on their first meeting and that how He got attracted to the philosophy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. On the eve of Sri Ram Navami, He narrated the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra and His dearest servitor, Sri Hanuman. He said that Lord will appear in the heart of any person whose mind and consciousness are in the state of Pure Transcendental Goodness. He emphasized on the importance of the association of bona fide sadhus to attain that state of mind. The devotees then sang guru-vandana and bhajans in the praise of Lord Sri Rama. Devotees offered obeissances, flowers and gifts at the Lotus Feet of Srila Gurudev. The program ended at 3.30pm with Prasad distribution to all attendees.

On 28 March all the devotees gathered for nagar sankirtan procession which started at 10 am. Devotees in huge numbers performed sankirtan in the procession in several groups. The Assamese folk and tribal sankirtan groups were also there. As the procession went through the streets of Goalpara, more and more people left their houses and joined the procession. It was spectacular to see the participation of the local people, greeting the procession with great reverence. Although it was a sunny day and the path was hot, the enthusiasm of the devotees was not lowered. Many people even sprinkled water on the streets and offered refreshments to the devotees. The procession ended at 2 pm with Prasad distribution to all.

After the festival, all the devotees visited the other branches of Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math in Assam at Sarbhog, Tezpur and Guwahati. The Math at Sarbhog was established by His Divine Grace Nityalilapravishtha Sree Sreemad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur Prabhupad. It was certainly a very memorable exprience for all the devotees who participated in the festival. �

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