With less than a month away from Gour Purnima, the divine appearance day of Sri Chaitanya MahaPrabhu, the devotees of ISKCON from all corners of the world have started to pour into Sridam Mayapur, the birthplace of MahaPrabhu and also global spiritual headquarters of ISKCON.
The festivities have begun from February 18 onwards and will continue till March 13. It is believed in Gaudiya Vaishnav philosophy that Sravan or hearing about the pastimes of Lord Krishna from senior devotees and then performing Kirtan or chanting the glories of the Lord in association with devotees are the most important tools to progress in spiritual life. Hence the celebrations have begun with commencement of Sravan Utsav which will run up to February 21, where senior monks are delivering lectures in English, Bangla and Hindi on various topics which are aimed to enlighten the people. On February 22 there will be flag hoisting ceremony which formally marks the start of the Gour Purnima celebrations. For the next five days Kirtan Mela will take place where thousands of devotees – men, women, children, Sanyasis of various colours, creeds and nationalities – will be together gleefully performing congregational chanting also known as Sankirtan. Sri Chaitanya MahaPrabhu had declared that in the age of Kaliyuga, Sankirtan is the only means of attaining spiritual perfection in life.
More than 10000 devotees are expected to take part in the Nabadwip Mandal Parikrama, which starts from February 28 till March 7. During the Parikrama the devotees will walk almost 80 kilometres covering all major sites where Sri Chaitanya MahaPrabhu had manifested his pastimes. Devotees from Russia, China, Australia, African continent, Bangladesh and other European countries will participate in the Parikrama. A carnival like atmosphere is slated to happen from March 7 when International groups will present cultural programmes depicting the life and teachings of Sri Chaitanya MahaPrabhu. All these festivities will lead up to the celebration of Gour Purnima on March 12, said HG Sankarshan Nitai Das, Coordinator of the festival committee