The Deities in Sri Sri Krsna Balarama Mandir were installed 1975, on the auspicious day of Rama Navami, and therefore that day is celebrated every year as the Installation day of the Deities. This year the 47th anniversary of Sri Sri Krsna Balarama Mandir will be celebrated on the upcoming festival of Ram Navami. For those devotees who are a part of Iskcon Vrndavana, this installation anniversary is such an important and joyful festival.The Brahmotsava festival is considered one of the most important festivals, as it is like Nityananda Trayodashi, Gaur Purnima, Balaram Purnima, Krishna janmastami and Radhastami combined together, as the Lords appear in their archavigraha forms on this day to accept the services of the devotees. On 8th April, which is the seventh day (saptami tithi) of the dark moon fortnight in the month of Caitra, at around 5pm we will start the celebrations with the traditional adi-vasa puja (worship performed on the eve of a festival) by worshipping our acaryas, the Supreme Lord, and His associates, in the temple courtyard. Auspicious items will be offered to the Lord and to the senior devotees. Vedic mantras and the maha-mantra will be recited after each item is offered. Also we will show respect to the mrdanga and kartalas by worshipping them and singing the auspicious, traditional adi-vasa song by our Gaudiya Vaisnava kirtaniyas. As usual at any festival, at the end we will distribute some maha-prasadam to the assembled devotees.
On 9th April, after the utthapan bhoga and aratik, the festival Deities – or the small Deities – will be brought out on Their palanquins, accompanied by the kirtana of the Mahamantra. The Deities will, in grand procession, visit all the departments of the temple, and will be honoured by each department with offerings of bhoga and aratika. They will go to the guesthouse, the gurukula, Balarama and Krsna Halls and other places and finally to the garden in the MVT, where again bhoga will be offered. This will be followed by sandhya-aratika. The devotees will have decorated with flower garlands and flower petals the path the Deities will take. Also skilled artists will decorate the sides of the path with colorful rangoli. At the end of the procession, there will be a feast with a lot of maha-prasadam for all the devotees participating. At night the pujaris will decorate the altar very gorgeously and the devotees will arrange wonderful decorations for the temple hall, the front of the temple and Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi-mandir to be nicely decorated.
Finally, at mangalaratika on April 10th, the devotees will take darsana of the Deities wearing a new night dress and beautiful decorations. Then at 7:30 am, the new day dress, made by our own local devotees, will be offered.
It was Srila Prabhupada’s desire that it is our own devotees that make dresses for the Deities. This was attempted 25 years ago and a few night dresses and simple day dresses had been offered, but for various reasons it stopped. For almost two years, we have been trying to start it again, and finally we have a good team of matajis and girls. They have already made a few night dresses, and now the first new day dress will be presented. Still some improvements need to be done but we are confident that Srila Prabhupada and Srimati Radharani are very happy with this endeavour.
The devotees will then glorify the Deities and Lord Sri Rama, His associates and pastimes. Actually, the glorifications of Lord Rama will have started a few days earlier.
At 10am the maha abhisheka of all the Deitites will be performed on the three altars. The Deities will be bathed with milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey and gur-water, fruit juices, Ganges water and so forth. Then the bhoga offering will then be made, and at least 108 preparations will be placed on each altar. These prepartions will comprise many salty preparations, sweet dishes, cakes and cookies and a huge cake. After the maha aratika there will be a sumptuous feast for all the devotees. In the afternoon a flower outfit, made by our devotees, will be offered.
In this way, the auspicious Brahmotsav festvial will be observed for the pleasure of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Krsna Balarama and Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara.