The beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath were installed on 18th July 1988. Every year on that auspicious day, devotees celebrate their divine appearance day. The Deities are gorgeously dressed in new outfit and melodious kirtans are performed for the pleasure of their Lordships. Twenty three years ago on this day Sri Sri Radha Gopinath were brought at 7, K.M Munshi Marg on the desire of Radhananth Swami and his disciples and no one knew that 25 years later they will become the life and soul of thousands of devotees here.
Every year this day is a big celebration in the temple with thousands of devotees gathering to celebrate the day and leaving so many visitors confused whether it is Janmastami (Appearance Day of Lord Krishna) celebrations in temple. Every year the day starts like every day at 5 am with the sound of concshell to indicate the first Darshan of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath. Even at the wee hours of early morning the temple hall is packed with devotees who had come to seek blessings of their lordships on this auspicious day. The Days proceedings began with the auspicious Mangal Arati of their Lordships, this is followed by regular Japa session in the temple hall.
As the clock was ticking towards 8 am, the intensity of chanting by devotees was increasing as they were waiting to see Sri Sri Radha Gopinath in their new birthday suit with many of them guessing and debating on the color of the dress. Finally, the curtains opens with a loud chanting of “Sri Sri Radha Gopinath ki Jai”. Devotees were glued to the vision of the altar where stood Radha Gopinath and Lalita, Vishaka in their new birthday outfits with a beautiful decorations. Picassos and Vincis of the world can’t recreate what everyone witnessed here today.
The day have much more in store for everyone. Event starts with the Bhagvatam Class by one of the temple’s famous speakers which ends by 10:30 am. On the ground floor the kitchen team cooks a big feast for more than 4000 people who comes that day.
At 12:30 pm festival class starts by one of famous speakers from Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Mandir who shares the history of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath temple with the audience and make them literally walk through the whole journey from day one of the temple till today.
Next in the event is dedicated to the Lordships with a famous Gaudiya Bhajan ‘Gopinath’ written by a famous vaishnava acharya Bhakti Vinod Thakur. Next event is the Maha-arati offered to Sri Sri Radha Gopinath accompanied with ecstatic kirtan for which devotees dance enthusiastically for hours.
When several events were happening, people were flocking at another place in temple to present their birthday gifts, offerings of love, for the divine Lordships. People had come with food items personally prepared by them, handmade greeting cards, bouquets, jewellery, toys, letters etc. Each one of them had poured their hearts into their gifts which made it much more than what it was.
All these events are clues for the final mystery to be unveiled very soon at 5:30 pm. Curtain! Fast music! Light! Ready for the last finale! that’s what buzzing in the air of the temple. Finally, at 5:30 a thunderous uproar of chanting of the holy name – “ Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Hare Hare”, sounds of nadswaram, concshell, drums, vedic hymns from Brahma Samhita heralded the arrival of Radha Gopinjanvallabh in a palanquin adorn with pearls and beautiful flowers, in the temple corridor. There small girls dressed in traditional Gopi dresses holding plates with lamps ahead of the procession and palanquin marking an auspicious beginning for the procession. The palanquin surrounded by nicely dressed sevaks who were carrying umbrella to shadow lordship and holding silver poles. Like the lordships the sevaks were equally dressed. The sight and aura match in essence to the description of scenes when Lord Krishna enters Dwarka. Even enthusiasm of devotees is no lesser than Dwarka residents and may be many of them lives that scene in reality.
The Lordships sits on the palanquin and circumambulates the temple. On the way they visits various temple departments and projects and hears their annual reports; after all they are the CEOs of this institute of devotees nurtured by Radhanath Swami. The palanquin followed by an entourage of devotees who sings and dances ecstatically on the tunes of Hare Krishna Kirtans; Kirtan always intensifies at the stopovers. The lordships visits all the offices be it Finance, Accounts, Book distribution office, Website team, Temple secretarial office, Guest reception office, Security office, Vaishnava Training Academy, Temple Kitchen, ISKCON Youth Services Office, Radha Gopinath Media Services, Temple Yatra committee, Tulsi Books Publication, Yamuna Kinara Bank, Back To Godhead Magazine team and many others.
Highlight in the whole procession is the performance by the students of Gopal’s garden school which was held at the stopover in Temple Courtyard. A group of young girls performs a classical dance on the song ‘Jaya Janardan’ and then a group of young boys performs the Maharashtrian folk dance Lezim. The audience thoroughly enjoys the performance and reciprocates by chanting loudly ‘Hari Bol’ – a customary way of thanking anyone at ISKCON temples.
Finally, the time arrives when Lordships came for a final stopover which ended by dedicating Gopi Geet – prayers from 10th Canto Srimad Bhagvatam where Lord Krishna’s most ardent devotees Gopis are glorified and remembered Lord krishna in separation. With an enchanting kirtan the palanquin was taken back to the altar. With folded hands devotees bow down in respect thanking them for a day in their life to associate so closely with them, serving them and providing shelter validating the words of their spiritual master Radhanath Swami who says, “We are not here for happy material life, we are here for selfless service and shelter.”
The day ends and this is probably the most vivid, longest and euphoric birthday party. For all of us our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time but this birthday celebration is an experience and remembrance for a lifetime. This remembrance is very essential as again in the words of Radhanath Swami, “Remembrance is a necessary expression of love, internally.”