Offerings of food are made to the deity of Ganga Devi onboard ISKCON’s ‘Vasanti Puspa’ boat.
Hundreds of devotees from all over the world, including ISKCON gurus Chandramauli Swami and Maha-Vishnu Swami, gathered outside the Radha-Madhava Chandradoya temple in ISKCON Mayapur this March 7 to celebrate Gangapuja – the occasion of the celestial Ganges’ descent from heaven to earth.
Each devotee carried an earthenware water pot to collect Ganges water for the upcoming bathing ceremony at Mayapur’s annual Gaura Purnima festival on March 11. A traditional Indian music band headed up the procession, followed by a kirtan band, deities of Sri Chaitanya and his associate Nityananda, and a palanquin carrying a small deity of ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada.
At the bank of the Ganges, the procession boarded ISKCON’s ‘Vasanti Puspa’ boat to attend a ceremony hosted by priest Bhadra Charu Dasa, who recited hundreds of mantras glorifying Mother Ganga and Sri Chaitanya.
As the sun set, a huge camphor lamp and 108-flame ghee lamp where offered to the deities of Sri Chaitanya and Nityananda, as well as the ganges. A seemingly neverending stream of devotees honored Mother Ganga by paying their respects, taking dips in her waters, and dancing on her slippery banks with their water pots balanced upon their heads.
As the lamp offerings came to an end, fireworks exploded in the azure blue sky on the opposite side of the river, etching this celebration of the holy Ganges in the minds of every ISKCON devotee present.