Chakra Announcements

Aravade Temple Opening Festival

by Radhaprema dasi

Posted February 8, 2009

The official opening of the temple in Aravade is set to turn this usually quiet, bucolic village into a buzzing, spiritual wonderland, with thousands of devotees, including H.H. Subhag Swami and H.H. Chandramauli Swami, arriving for the festival, inarguably a first for this pastoral land.

The centre began in March 1996 as a two-room brick and mud-daub temple roofed with tin sheets, situated on land donated by H.H. Lokanath Swami's brother. In spite of the rudimentary facilities, 25 to 30 devotees would attend evening arati with diligence and enthusiasm. Harinama would be held every Saturday, and then prasadam would be served.

Driven by Srila Prabhupada's enduring enthusiasm for rustic village life, Lokanath Swami devised a temple design to create a spiritual impact on the Aravade community and surrounding villages.

Srila Prabhupada had advised devotees to encourage the villagers to chant Hare Krishna: "Let them develop attraction for chanting. Let them find satisfaction in the self. Then, with just whatever few basic necessities are available in the village setting, they will lead a happy life."

Sahasranama das and Sravana Bhakti das cleared 9 acres (3.6 hectares) of a sugarcane field to accommodate the festival structure for several months. Roads had to be restructured and the ground leveled, watered down and rolled to prepare for the several pandals. These include gift shops, a BBT booth, reception areas for local and foreign devotees, residences for devotees and about 2 acres (0.8 ha) for the main pandal. About 10,000 yards (9 km) of cloth was used to decorate the pandals. (This is about the distance that separates Aravade from the nearby village of Tasgaon.)

Aravade is a remote village in the district of Sangli, about 450 km east of Mumbai, with a population of 3,000. Sangli enjoys a central and strategic location in Southern Maharashtra and is linked to most parts of Maharashtra by road and railways.

In ancient times, the region around Sangli was known as Kundal. This was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty. Until 1948, when it was merged into India, Sangli was a princely state ruled by the royal family of the Patwardhans. The city of Sangli is a modern city with wide roads, major railway junctions and all the facilities of any modern city.