VRINDAVANA, INDIA – October 10 saw special celebrations in the holy village for Dusshera, the popular Hindu holiday celebrating Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana. Devotees relished the once-a-year sight of Sri Sri Radha-Ramanji, presiding deity of the famous Radha-Ramana temple, triumphantly riding by on a large silver elephant.
Radha-Ramanji was originally one of twelve Salagram Shilas, or sacred stones, that the saint Gopal Bhatta Goswami discovered quite accidentally. The Goswami found them as he scooped up water for his bath in the Gandhaki River in Nepal and Muktinatha, where all shilas originate, and returned home to Vrindavana with them. As he lamented that his contemporaries had beautiful deities with clothes, crowns, and jewelery to worship, one of the sacred stones, known as Damodara, suddenly self-manifested as the exquisitely enchanting deity of Radha-Ramanji.
Vrindavana resident Dina Bandhu Dasa attended Radha-Ramanji’s silver elephant parade, and took several photos for ISKCON News readers around the world to enjoy. The photos bring home the sheer size of the elephant and the colorful throne upon his back.
“I was trying to get a picture of one of Gopal Bhatta's shilas, which was riding in an ornate cart,” Dina Bandhu says. “As I was holding the camera well over my head, hoping to get a glimpse, one of the deity’s younger priests gently pulled me to the middle of the altar and showed me how I could get a nice view. Unfortunately, my photo was blocked by a silver pole holding up the canopy, but you can still clearly see the shila and his beautiful conchshell eyes.”
The evening ended with an arati offering, sacred flames burning on the Radha-Ramana temple’s signature long ghee wicks. As the service came to a close, several young Goswami priests stepped forward to sing the traditional song in praise of Radha-Ramanji.
“I left with the melodic refrain -- Sri Radharamana Lala jaya jaya, Jaya Sri Bhatta Gopal -- ringing in my ears,” says Dina Bandhu. “It was an enchanting evening, and I’m glad I could share it with you all.”
[ vrindavana ]