Back to My Oasis
Posted August 20, 2009
We arrived in Tucson Arizona around 9 am after an all night drive from the Festival of the Chariots in LA. After making necessary arrangements to stay cool in the forecast of 107 degrees, (buying a box of fresh young coconuts and mangoes), we were back at the Caitanya Cultural Center. An oasis indeed, especially with the many trees on the property, waterfall, a good size koi pond, and an aviary with peacocks, parrots, macaws, polish roosters, and turtle doves, and those love-birds I've been trying to make friends with since I last visited in April.
Devotees buzzed around like bees setting up stages, hanging lights, receiving guests etc, all in preparation for Janmasthami and Srila Prabupada's Vyasa Puja. I help for some time and then sat down to take lunch at Govinda's while reading over the schedule of events: Classical dance, Sitar recital, Fire dancers, Odissi dance, Kirtan, Abhishek, and last and best, free feast and Krishna's birthday cake. My brother calls to inform me that he'll come to the festival at which time I feel a bit of anxiety as far as what the presentation will be and if it'll be capturing enough to the westerners who dare to stay through midnight for the whole experience. Later that evening Bhakta Jacob and I take flyers and pamphlets to the houses around the temple to invite our neighbors and also ask their pardon in case the festivities disturb their nights rest. Great response! People were happy to be invited and also expressed gratitude for taking the time to inform them at least about the noise at night. At least in any case they won't call the cops to crash Krishna's party.
Janmasthami was a hit, best estimate was 700 in attendance. Neighbors came, restaurant guests, local congregation and passers by hearing the loud sound vibration also ventured in through the gates. Meeting new Krishna youth was also very inspiring for me especially after attending Kuli MeLA. The rainstorm that had threatened the evening was no where in sight, sound and light went perfectly, and the dancers and other performers played for Krsna's satisfaction thru the night. My brother was in awe, and I spent most of the night answering questions about many topics ranging from Classical dance to fire eating. Many people read thru the picture presentation done by Gunamayi and Devala from LA about Srila Prabhupada's life and then continued on experiencing the rest of the events. My favorite part... Birthday Cake at Midnight and sitting in the open patio watching the Dasavatar Animation. So many people stayed for that! It seemed as though Krishna decided to come out and play with his friends for his birthday. But around 2 am I had to get in some sleep for the appearance of Krishna's greatest gift to the west, Srila Prabhupada.
For some reason, I felt a bit sad that morning because the temple wasn't packed with devotees, but as the day grew on, things changed. While we sat in the temple reading offerings to Srila Prabhupada and then offering Puspanjali and then arati, guests from the restaurant floated into the temple room and joined the festivities. For me, opening up the gift of Srila Prabhupada's love for us and sharing it with "walk-ins" is what I live for.
The desert heat seemed non-existent on those two days as we all immersed ourselves in Krishna Consciousness and opened our doors to so many westerners who came invited or just stumbled in to get the mercy of the Lord. I'll be back next year. Hare Krishna.