Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman installed.

by Hrishikesh

On November 2, 1986 , deities of Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman were installed at the New Vrindaban temple. Land of Krishna reported: (97)

For several weeks beforehand, the excitement of the event was in the air as devotees prepared to receive Their Lordships. All the mothers in the sewing room were working overtime to prepare at least four new outfits of silk, covered with pearls and jewels. Mother Ishani and her helpers carefully assembled the matched sets of crowns, armlets, bracelets, and anklets.

The kitchen was bustling as cooks prepared hundreds of sumptuous dishes, and the fundraising department was busy opening mail from hundreds of donors sponsoring the maha-abhishekham for Sita, Rama, Lakshman, and Hanuman.

Thousands of little colored lights were strung over the front of the temple building, while small children ran to and fro, gathering up floral decorations for the temple’s interior. . . .

On Diwali morning, one thousand pots of scented, spiced water were spread out over a large area of the temple floor. Each pot was topped with a coconut resting on four leaves. Large trays of fruit, sweets, and flowers formed the setting for the traditional agni-hotra (fire sacrifice), performed by Gaura Keshava Das, while hundreds of devotees and guests looked on. . . .

At midday , the Deities were placed on Their new gold and silver altar. The altar curtains were closed, and Gaura Keshava performed a private puja for Them. Then (Kirtanananda Swami) was brought behind the curtains and he formally welcomed Their Lordships and removed the blindfolds. Now it was time for the Sahsra Kalasa Abhishekham (bathing with one thousand pots). . . (Kirtanananda Swami) spoke about the importance of the occasion and poured the first pot of scented water over the deities. . . . After all the guests and devotees had participated, the Deities were again carried to Their new altar. After being elaborately dressed in Their new outfits, They were offered a huge feast of the devotees’ best cooking efforts. . . . All through the afternoon and most of the evening, loud congregational chanting of the Lord’s holy names continued: Shri Rama, Jaya Rama, Jaya Jaya Rama. Raghupati Ragava Raja Rama, Patita Pavana, Sita Rama.

A fourth altar was built and the big hand-carved Lord Jagannath, Lady Subhadra and Lord Balaram deities were also moved into the new temple. A huge skylight of dozens of stained-glass windows was installed high in the ceiling of the temple room (reported to be the largest stained-glass ceiling in North America), and two large back lighted transparencies graced the front and rear. The New Vrindaban temple room became a tourist attraction just like the Palace. Visitors to the Palace naturally also came to see the four beautiful altars at the temple, and the deities which resided there. New Vrindaban was increasingly becoming a veritable Tirupati of the West.

97. Bhavishyat Das, “Festival Is Highlight of Pilgrimage Season,” Land of Krishna, vol. 3, no. 8 (November 1986).

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