Sri Mayapur International School, Saturday 6 June
With numerous colourful pots filled with lovingly prepared chipped rice, festive flags and banana leaves, sweet kirtana sounds in the air and a large gathering of vaisnavas around SriSRi Gaura-Nitai, the Sri Mayapur International School was transformed into the village of Panihati on the banks of the Ganga.
Inspired by the wonderful "cida-dadhi-mahotsava," the chipped rice festival as described in the Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Krishna-Prestaya Mataji, the Cultural Progam Manager of the school, tried to follow step-by-step the instructions given by Lord Nityananda to Raghunatha dasa Goswami:
"Hearing this, Lord Nityananda Prabhu said, "You are a thief. Now you have
come to see Me. Come here, come here. Today I shall punish you," the Lord
called him, but Raghunatha dasa did not go near the Lord. Then the Lord
forcibly caught him and placed His lotus feet upon Raghunatha dasa's
head. "Make a festival and feed all My associates yogurt and chipped
rice." Hearing this, Raghunatha dasa was greatly pleased.
Raghunatha dasa brought chipped rice, yogurt, milk, sweetmeats, sugar,
bananas and ether eatables and placed them all around. As soon as they
heard that a festival was going to be held, all kinds of brahmanas and
other gentlemen began to arrive. Thus there were innumerable people.
Seeing the crowd increasing, Raghunatha dasa arranged to get more eatables
from other villages. He also brought two to four hundred large, round
pots. He also obtained five or seven especially large earthen pots, and in
these pots a brahmana began soaking chipped rice for the satisfaction of
(Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya-Lila Chapter 6)
Krishna Prestaya Mataji's enthusiasm spread throughout the school and community as children started making decorative pots two weeks in advance, and parents were seen exchanging chipped rice recipes in the mornings at the temple courtyard.
The day finally arrived....a wonderful opportunity for all to be completely absorbed in Lord Gauranga's service in Mayapur as parents and children alike made different sweatmeats and chipped rice, filled colourful pots, decorated the area and dressed the children as Lord Caitanya or Lord Nityananda.
The program started with verses from the Caitanya Caritamrita being recited by the junior primary children, followed by the sweetest of all bhajans - "Parama Karuna Pahu Dui Jana" sung by 12-year old Amina in a voice that made stones melt and parents shed tears, followed by Subhadra singing "Gauranga Bolite Habe." During this time all the food preparations were offered to Their Lordships, SriSri Nitai Mayapur-Chandra.
Thereafter the colourful pots were brought out one-by-one to display to visitors. As part of fundraising for the school the larger pots were auctioned to the community. The excitement increased as devotees competed to purchase some of the best pots. Subhangi Mataji's pot - "Lord Caitanya running after Lord Jagannatha" proved the most popular and was "sold" for a donation of 2050 rupees!
The younger children were very much attached to their hard work and did not wish to auction their pots, but they did agree to share the contents....what followed was an ecstatic feast of loving exchanges of different flavours and textures of chipped rice, and thirst-quenching lassi (yogurt-drink).
The high-school boys provided kirtana throughout the program, and several parents commented that the whole atmosphere was special and spiritual. It was Krishna Prestaya Mataji's desire to try end invoke the mood of the original cida-dadhi-mahotsava, and indeed her desire was fulfilled.
For any enquiries about the Sri Mayapur International School, please write to SMIS@pamho.net