Toronto's Hare Krishna Temple

Toronto's Hare Krishna Centre (ISKCON Toronto), has always been the hub of a rich, vibrant and enthusiastic community. Whether it be grand festivals, programs at local universities and yoga studios, philosophical discussions, cooking sessions, or singing and dancing on the streets, there are events taking place for everyone's interest.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Five Days of Celebrating Ramacandra!

8:58:00 PM By Kevala-Bhakti Dasa (Keshav) , , , , , , , , No comments

The great story of Ramacandra can be found in both the Ramayana and the Srimad Bhagavatam, two very revered scriptures. In those descriptions, one can read about how the citizens of Ayodhya, where Lord Ramacandra reigned as king, celebrated in grand fashion when He appeared. We can only imagine how grand those festivities must have been!

Well, Toronto's Hare Krishna Centre had our very own humble celebrations, compared to Ayodhya, in honour of the appearance of Lord Rama on His birthday... and by humble, we mean that we had five days of celebrations!!!

It all began on Wednesday, March 24th, which was the actual day (as per lunar calendar calculations) that Lord Ramacandra appeared! Celebrations included wonderful kirtan, a class by Rupanuga das and more. One very interesting thing happened, though. During the festival, Laksmana, Lord Ramacandra's younger brother, magically appeared! He was in the middle of a battle with one of evil Ravana's demonic followers, Indrajit who suddenly appeared on the temple balcony! After an evil cackle, Indrajit shot an arrow and Laksmana fell unconscious!!! (For our unfamiliar blog readers, please do not be alarmed. This was simply a reenactment of the famous battle; nobody will shoot arrows at you if you visit our temple.) In the Ramayana, it is described that Hanuman then flew far away to retrieve herbs that eventually saved Laksmana! As some monkey warriors took the unconscious Laksmana off stage, it was announced that Hanuman would come to save him on Sunday, four days later!

As festivities wound down after lots of kirtan, devotees sat in rows and created a "bridge" as they passed plates of prasadam to each other, just like how the monkeys built the bridge of boulders for Lord Rama!

Between Wednesday and Sunday, devotees could watch the unconscious Laksmana via a live webcast feed on our blog! But there was a whole lot more happening during those days. For the first time, the Toronto Hare Krishna Centre hosted conference calls on each day with a theme of Rama-Lila. Mahatma das from Alachua, FL and Krsnanandini devi dasi from Cleveland, OH joined us for these calls and spoke about wonderful topics related to Lord Rama. During the calls, we hosted a chat window on our blog for teleconference attendees to interact with both the facilitators and each other.

This led us to Sunday's festivities. The evening began with a great kirtan at 6pm and led into a class by Sita Thakurani devi dasi. After that, the conlusion to "Laksmana Watch" took place. An unconscious Laksmana was brought out and after heartfelt cries of "Jaya Sri Rama" (meaning "victory to Lord Rama") by the audience, Hanumana came with a grand entrance. Much to the delight of our community, dressed as Hanuman was his namesake, Hanuman das who is known for his tireless efforts of managing the team of volunteers who serve the vegetarian feast and clean the temple every Sunday! He won the heart of the crowd and left the stage to thunderous applause. (check out the video of his grand entrance by clicking here)

While there was a hint of a comedic element to the drama, the mood then certainly became meditative as an enrapturing Nama-Yajna then took place. In a Nama-Yajna, spiritualists collectively chant in a kirtan in an especially-meditative fashion! Led by Dhira Grahi das, the kirtan had the assembled devotees swimming in thoughts of Lord Ramacandra! After a rousing 8pm kirtan, devotees were then served a vegetarian feast by cardboard-crown-wearing servers who became Lord Rama's monkey army!

All in all, Toronto's Hare Krishna Centre presented five days of festivities to mark the appearance of Lord Ramacandra! We're positive that this paled in comparison to the celebrations that must have taken place in Ayodhya ages ago when Lord Rama actually appeared... but in our happy little way, we certainly seemed to bring the spirit of Ayodhya to Toronto!

View the Festival Recording by Clicking Here.

View the Festival Gallery Below:

Click HERE for simple gallery!