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Living Bhagavata Dharma at Namadwaar Madhura Utsav

Rathotsavam

Rathotsavam

MANVEL: Numerous saints hail Bhagavata Dharma – the path of devotion through kirtanam (singing the Lord’s Names) and shravanam (listening to His stories) – as the simplest and most potent dharma to sprout love for Bhagavan and lead us straight to Him; and as one that can be practiced easily by anyone from the youngest to the oldest even in today’s tumultuous age of kali.

At the 10th annual Namadwaar Madhura Utsavam (“sweet celebration”) conducted by Global Organization for Divinity at Houston Namadwaar from Dec 23-31, 2017, one could actually experience the beauty of living in Bhagavata dharma, as everyone – from little children to aging grandparents, and all in between – enjoyed themselves effortlessly in thoughts of Bhagavan for a whole week.

Sri Poornimaji’s discourse

Sri Poornimaji’s discourse

Led by Sri Poornimaji and Sri Ramaswamyji, disciples of His Holiness Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, and in the divine presence of the Namadwaar deities of Krishna-Radha named Sri Premika Varadan-Sri Madhuri Sakhi, this year’s Utsav was truly unique. What was elucidated on in Poornimaji’s brilliant evening discourses on the Navayogis’ exposition of Bhagavata Dharma in Srimad Bhagavatam, was actually practiced by all devotees during the day, easily with no explicit effort.

The Navayogis speak of how, to get rid of fear, one must hold on to the Lotus Feet of the Lord through incessant Nama sankirtan and reminiscing of the leelas of Bhagavan. True to this, there was constant reverberation of the Divine Name in Namadwaar and every day, different leelas of Bhagavan were enacted by devotees. Special highlights included the Vana Bhojanam – a depiction of the Gopa boys playing with Krishna in the forests of Brindavan, where children dressed up as Gopas and actually played with Premika Varadan and ate with Him; and Govinda Pattabhishekam, where devotees and children enacted the entire leela. The moment when the storm came and all devotees surrendered completely to Krishna was truly moving as everyone fell together at Premika Varadan’s feet!

Madhurageetham devotional music competition winners with the judges.

Madhurageetham devotional music competition winners with the judges.

Vaikunta Ekadasi was also celebrated in a grand manner with the whole Namadwaar reverberating with the Divine Name as Premika Varadan-Madhuri Sakhi and all devotees went through the “Vaikunta Dwaar”. In the afternoon, a unique Garuda vahanam procession included enactment of various scenes from Bhagavatam where Bhagavan gives darshan while seated on Garuda.

Another highlight event at the Utsav was an entire day dedicated to children. On Dec 30th morning, children helped pull Bhagavan’s Ratha (chariot), then presented a unique music and dance sequence depicting Krishna subduing the different egos of Brahma, Indra, Kaliya and the Gopis. In the afternoon children played Krishna-themed games outdoors, which was followed by Janavasam performed entirely by children and the grand finale of the Radha Kalyanam, also performed by children in their own mandaps to their own Premika Varadan-Madhuri Sakhi. It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience for the children.

Every day there was also Madhurasmriti, where devotees shared sweet memories of their experiences with Sri Swamiji in India, and also many cultural performances – Hari Kathas by children from the Gopa Kuteeram Hari Katha Club, Dance performances by Shweta Srinivasan from Canada, Sanjana Anand from Seattle, Dharshana Dhantu from Atlanta, Pavithra Chandrasekar from Houston, and group of Archana Bharadwaj, Harini Ganesh, Keerthana Venkataraman, Ramitha Venkat, Sahana Ganesh, Sneha Nair and Varshni Venkatesan from Houston, and Bhajans by children from the Gopa Kuteeram Bhajan Mandali and students of Smt. Meenakshi Venkataraman.

Earlier in the week, a Madhurageetham devotional music competition was held for all ages based on the compositions of HH Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji. The competition saw enthusiastic participation by children, and they were also inspired to learn and understand the meanings of the songs they were rendering. The judges Smt. Sridevi Josyula, Smt. Nalini Sadagopan and Smt. Rajalakshmi Ganapathiraman wonderfully encouraged the children while emphasizing on the devotional aspect and understanding/appreciating the lyrics. The emcee, Smt. Uma Gomathi, also conducted a very informative musical quiz. The winners of the competition were Dhrithi Balaji, Ananya Hariharasudhan, Pranav Sriram and Malavika Dwarakanath in Subjuniors; Madhura Sriram, Keerthana Venkataraman, Kritika Dwarakanath and Harini Ganesh in Juniors; and Bharat Salvady and Shweta Srinivasan in Senior group. The first place winners also performed one evening during the Utsav.

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