July 18, 2002 VNN7443 This story URL: http://www.vnn.org/americas/AM0207/AM18-7443.html
Vrinda Peru Mela 2002
BY SRINIVAS DAS
PERU, Jul 18 (VNN) All Glories to Sri Chaitanya's Sankirtana Movement, which is delivering the divine sound of Lord Krsna's Holy Name to every town and village throughout the world. This prophecy of Sri Chaitanya is such a wonderful reality, being fulfilled by The Gaudiya Family under the inspiration of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and his beloved disciples; most notably, our beloved Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
In the middle of May, the Vrinda Mission 's Mela 2002 was realized, hosted by the devotees of the Peruvian Ashrams and the Eco Truly Farm. The event marked the inauguration of the First Vedic Planetarium at the Eco Truly Farm. About 250 devotees attended the Mela from all of the Vrinda missions throughout South America.
The first stop on the Mela agenda was Lima, a desert oasis city on the Peruvian coastline. The Vrinda Temple is located in an old historical part of town within walking distance from the President's palace and the busy main street of the old city. In addition to the temple, the devotees also maintain a preaching center called The Harmonist, with daily programs and a vegetarian restaurant.
The highlight of the Lima portion of the Mela was a Hari Nam parade through the city. The devotee's enthusiasm for chanting and dancing was a great benediction to the residents of Lima, awakening the whole city. The children in the parade, dressed in animal costumes and carrying signs pleading for mercy for animals, called out to everyone to accept a vegetarian diet. The parade was complete with a man on stilts and many colorful banners and signs protesting the social ills of non-devotional material existence.
The Sankirtana Party wove its way through Lima for over 3 hours with four or five different groups chanting nonstop. The devotees from different parts of South America performed different styles of kirtan, using traditional instruments such as guitars, flutes, and drums, etc. The variety of the kirtans in the parade created a most ecstatic Hari Nam experience.
The Lima tour concluded with an evening program on the roof a hotel overlooking the old city. Under a pandal tent, the devotees and guests watched a slide show tribute to George Harrison, and an all-star lineup of talented devotional musicians played some of George's music. One could not help but feel intoxicated by the overwhelming amount of devotional entertainment and activity.
The following morning, three large tour buses transported the pilgrims to the Eco Truly Ashram Farm. The ride from Lima to Chakra Mar takes about one hour. The city of Lima and surrounding areas have typical views of feudal-looking scenes checkered with industrial living. Like many third world and developing countries, Peru is mired in poverty, while struggling to keep pace with the lure of Big Brother's standards to the far north. The old buildings and new shanty town settlements of Peruvian suburbia then gave way to hills of rock and sand on the highway to Chakri Mar. The desolate landscape and trash-laden streets were a sobering sign as to the lack of care given to this planet, as well as, the void of spiritual integrity. But even in the midst of this bleak drive, the smiling joyful devotees on the bus served, in stark contrast, as a reminder of what real life is and what was to come at the Eco Truly farm. The Tour Buses began their descent towards the coastal sand hills and the Chakri Mar valley.
The valley coming into view was worthy of a cover shot for National Geographic magazine. The Eco Truly farm appeared like a beautiful oasis between the sand hills and the waves of the Pacific. Adobe Trulys of different sizes and colors sprouted from the land resembling beehive domes. These unusual looking domes sported windows, chakras, and colored glass with illustrations depicting Vaisnava art. As the buses got closer, the Eco Truly farm appeared like a complete village, with sandy trails weaving between the Trulys and gardens of bananas, sweet potatoes, row crops, beautiful trees and flowers. The contrast of this farm with the rest of the Peruvian environment is so powerful and dramatic that I could envision visitors spontaneously bowing their heads and offering respects to Srila Prabhupada and his intimate servitor Srila Paramadwaiti Swami for inspiring it. This place touches the heart and makes the statement 'every town and village' ring louder than ever.
The Eco Truly Ashram has a surprise and a story to tell around every corner. The entire village is a display of conscious environmental living. The highest expression of that consciousness is the newly opened Vedic Planetarium. The Vedic Planetarium introduces visitors to the different levels of the material world with a circle of Trulys arranged in a large Mandala around an inner Mandala representing the spiritual world. The inner spiritual world Mandala of Trulys, represent the seven main temples of Vrindavana. The largest Truly in this inner Mandala is the new home of Sri Sri Radha Damodara and Gauranga Mahaprabhu. There is a courtyard in the center of the planetarium which is open to the sky but the devotees have draped colorful fabric across a wooden structure, giving an 'other worldly' feel and look to this amazing place. The functions of the three days spent at the Eco Truly farm culminated in a procession of devotees and guests, led by Srila Paramadwaiti Swami and Atulanda Acharya to the inner Mandala of the planetarium to install the deities of Sri Sri Radha Damodara. For their walk to their new temple, Radha Damodara were dressed in traditional Peruvian outfits. Radha and Krsna looked as if they had just returned from the Andes Mountains and had made their way to the new Truly temple site. I will never forget this scene as they entered the Mandala with the devotees singing and dancing all around them.
The mercy of Guru and Krsna is what we live for. To attend a Mela in South America with the wonderful devotees of the Vrinda Mission, Srila Paramadwaiti Swami and Atulanda Acharya is something that any devotee would feel grateful to experience. I expect the Eco truly farm will receive world recognition at some point. It is a testament to simple living and high thinking. The Truly architecture is fascinating; practical and completely organic, and really quite revolutionary.
Finally, aside from everything else amazing about the Mela 2002 in Peru, one can not help but fall in love with the kind-hearted devotees who live and work there. It's wonderful to be around devotees who are so full with devotion to their spiritual masters and to such elevated Vaisnavas as Srila Prabhupada, Srila Sridhara Swami, and Srila Puri Maharaja. It gives one the understanding that serving the devotees, Guru and Krishna is what spiritual life is all about-and what devotional Melas are all about. I can't wait to attend the next Mela in Ecuador in 2003.
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