WVA MAGAZINE


RASA-LILA PERORMANCE ON YAMUNA RIVER

From February 7th through February 13th, organizers Abishek Goswami of Vrindabanís Radah Raman Mandhir and Ramdas Prabhu (Western disciple of His Divine Grace Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami), jointly organized a vasant festival at Sri Vrindaban Dham.  The seven day program was a tremendous succes and was noted in the national newspapers to be the largest gathering in Vrindaban in recent times. The program was attended by four to five thousand Brij Basis daily. It was also a historical precedent as this was the first time the Rasa Lila had ever been performed on the river Jamuna. The program was attended by dignitaries from Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabahad, and Rajasthan. Among those attending were renowned artist B.G. Sharma, who has personal showing for Ronald Reagan, and Mathuraís District Magistrate, and many other important heads of spiritual missions and local government.

This is a wonderful initiative towards non sectarian Dham-seva project through friendship, with great respect for each others tradition. Concern is how to serve the holy-dham and the brij basis on the breaking of barriers in World Vaishnavism, a western discipel of the Gaudiya math comming together with a Goswami from the Radha Raman temple. They built a village inside the temple. The program in the morning started with a group of brahmins who would chant Vishna Sahassana, some would read from Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, and chanting for auspiciousness in that place wich has been abandoned for many years. Two times a day, in the morning and evening, there came be harinam parties from Radha-raman.That was going on inside the kunj.There were fancy invitations to the wealthy and influential people all over india, and banners were distributed in Vrindavan and Mathura.

Before they built the stage there was a Yamuna-puja (feb 2), to invoke auspisciousness, with all the brahmanas on the ghat. They managed to built a stage on the Yamuna river on a small sand bay. The base was 10 boats, where upon bamboo, and then the stage. Every day it woul be windy, but when the performance started, from 3 to 7 pm, the wind would drop. The performance would go on for seven days, and ech day 4 to 5 thousand people woul attend .On the Ghat steps people were sitting, and on the roofs. They also put about twenty boats in front of the stage, where the influential people would sit.
 Everybody was invited, nobody left out, and it was free of charge, so also the poor people could come. This was a point the District magistrate mentioned as very good and important. There were many sadhus, even the brij-basis from Radha-kund. It was covered in 5 or 6 local newspapers.

The festival highlight was seven days of Rasa Lila performance by Vrindabanís leading Rasa Mandali troop, headed by Fata Krishna (sp?). The performers were the most famous rasa mandali troup from Vrindavan, which also made tours throughout India and also to Europe. The lila was unusual because of the river. People were overjoyed to see this performance, especially as Krishna went out on the river on a boat throwing prasadam at the crowd. Also the artist were very enthousiastic, since normally upto 200-300 attend the performance, so it was a great joy to perform for such a large crowd. They got Krishna in the boat with the gopis, people were even jumping of the stage in the water at some lilas. There were more lilas than  the rasa-lila.

The event was also important because the ghats were becomming abandoned, people were becoming afraid to walk there. This event brought people from all over Vraj back to Keshi-ghat, which hasnít been active for 50-70 years. This will start a revival. Also planned are some programs for the benefit of the widows of Vrindavan at the ghat. The program was organized to inaugurate an ongoing effort to preserve the environment and cultural history of Braj. The specific focus was public awareness and participation in the cleaning of the River Jamuna upon which the performance stage was masterfully erected. The large stage was erected in the middle of the River Jamuna at Pandawali Ghat at Keshi Ghat. Pandawali Kunj is also the sight of great restoration work to restore the building to itsí original condition to serve as a museum of Vrindabanís history, cultural center, and environmental educational center for the local community. This center will have educational material for the local public, to reach also the schools in Vraj and supply them with education material, concerning how to take care of the dham, and the importance of this. In this way it is a privately funded dham-seva project. They are howerver looking for donations and sponsors, because it is a joint effort, under the flag of the Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupad World Mission, which os doing the organisation and restauration work, as a seva for the community. The adress is Vrinda Kunja.

The program was so succesful that the sponsors have agreed to make it a yearly event. The district magistare was very pleased and will give full suport to any such future event.
 
note:
There will be a video comin out containing the festival & performances, to be had at Mandala publication office in San Fransisco.
 




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