submitted by Suvyakta Narasimha das
Serving Prabhupada and serving lunch!
Just on the outskirts of Vrindaban, Mathura, a group of devotees dedicated to Srila Prabhupada are operating a project inaugurated by ISKCON Bangalore. Here is a place of pilgrimage in India’s most holy land of Lord Krishna’s childhood pastimes, a beautiful temple and modern facility which is highly organized for preparing and distributing prasadam on a very large scale.
Place of Pilgrimage
The Sri Vrindavan-chandra Mandir was inaugurated in 2006 on the most auspicious day of Sri Rama Navami day. Several thousands of devotees attended the Deity installation ceremonies.
The temple is housed in an ultra modern geodesic structure with a traditional gopuram based on khajuraho style of architecture, greeting pilgrims at the entrance. The structure has a central dome rising to 40 feet , surrounded by a circular torus. Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra reside on the first floor of the dome, while the Akshaya Patra kitchen is located in the torus. A restaurant on the ground floor below the temple in the dome, serves delectable Sri Krishna Prasadam to the visitors.
The campus is surrounded by lush green lawns and plants with super clean surroundings, giving a fresh breath to the people visiting Vrindavan.
Just outside the dome and torus structure is the Open Air Theater meant for holding cultural programs. During Kartik month, the OAT becomes live with many traditional dance drama programs featuring many distinguished artistes. The utsava murtis of Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra are brought in a pallaki [palanquin] to the OAT & various pastimes of Sri Krishna from the Srimad Bhagavatam are enacted in front of them for Their pleasure. The OAT can seat about 1000 people at a t a time.
A large, beautiful sarovar (water body) next to the OAT with its crystal clear water adds to the ambience of the place. Colorful boat festivals for Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Vrindavan-chandra every Kartik month lend lot of grandeur to the festival.
The “Surabhi Kunj” goshala [cow shelter] houses about 14 cows, calves and bulls. The fresh milk from the cows are used for various offerings and preparations for Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra. The cows are all of native Indian breeds such as Sahibal, Haryanvi and local breeds. The goshala with clay tile roofing and an open frame work gives a cooling effect to take care of the cows during the severe summers.
The Dome houses Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra mandir on the first floor. The traditional mandir [temple] structure against the back drop of a modern steel geodesic structure gives a pleasing contrast of traditional and modern architecture. The temple hall can accommodate about a 150 people at a
time. The major festivals of the temple are Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Sri Radhashtami, Kartik Fest (7 day festival during Govardhan Puja time) and Gaura Purnima.
Opposite the temple altar and facing it is Srila Prabhupada’s altar. Srila Prabhupada’s pancha loha murti, seated on a Vyasasan with ornate wooden carving for the back drop gives a grand look to the altar. Srila Prabhupada is offered Guru Puja every day in the morning after darshana arati on this Vyasasan.
On festival days, the temple hall is decorated with flowers in various ways, locally called Phool Bangla, for the pleasure of Their Lordships.
Grand abhisheks are performed for Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra during festivals such as Radhashtami & Janmashtami. The abhishek is performed against a special flower backdrop as several hundreds of devotees watch on and tumultuous kirtan goes on in the back ground.
Janmashtami is followed by a grand Vyasa Puja for Srila Prabhupada … [with a] hundred plus bhoga items offered for Srila Prabhupada’s pleasure on his Vyasa Puja day and devotees singing and dancing in ecstasy on Srila Prabhupada’s day of advent.
The Akshaya Patra Program at Vrindaban
Inspired by Srila Prabhupada’s desire that no one within 10km radius of his centers should go hungry, the Akshaya Patra kitchen housed in the torus at Vrindavan, cooks for and feeds more than 155,000 children everyday in Mathura District. The children are fed with rotis (chapatis) and dal [lentil soup] with sabji [vegetable dishes] or with a rice item like palav [rice with vegetables] or fried rice with sabji or dal. These are children studying in government schools of Mathura District. More than 1300 schools are reached out to by nearly
50 vans transporting the meal from the Akshaya Patra kitchen in Vrindavan everyday. The children are fed with unlimited meal quantity sumptuously. The kitchen in Vrindavan is ISO 22000 certified by DNV for Food Safety Management Stystems. The equipment used include a roti-making machine which can make 40,000 rotis/hour, steam generators for cooking rice and dal, vegetable cutting machines which can cut about 300kg of vegetables per hour, grain cleaning machines which can clean 3 tons of grains per hour etc.