The arrival of the long awaited marble deities of Sri Sri Nitai Sundar Gaura Hari at the Sri Jagannath Mandir in Kuala Lumpur was bitter sweet. The grand ceremony on May 16th had been planned for years and represented the fulfillment of many devotees’ hard work and deep longings. But, the two brothers were already present before they arrived.
Neem deities of Sri Sri Nitai Gaura Sunder had arrived in Malaysia in 1991, sent by Bhakti Purushottama Maharaj from Mayapur. They were intended as Padayatra deities, meant to accompany a traveling group touring the country on foot.
Indeed, this was their function until 1993, when they stopped at the Sri Jagannath Mandir until 2009, due to some impediments the Padayatra faced. Last year, the Sankirtan Team of traveling preachers said that they were now ready to take the deities on tour again. It was a heart-breaking moment for the devotees here, as the timing coincided with Snana Yatra when Sri Sri Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhatra deities go in convalescence, leaving no deities on the altar.
In desperation, the Temple President pleaded to the Sankirtan Team to return the Padayatra deities until the temple could install their new deities. So after a short trip, Sri Sri Nitai Gaura Sunder returned to the altar within a week.
True to their word, the team only took the deities away again on May 23, a week after Jayapataka Swami installed the new marble deities named Sri Sri Nitai Sundar Gaura Hari. Nevertheless, the only smiling face belonged to Devadeva Dasa, head of the Sankirtan Team, who had waited patiently for this moment, while the rest of the community had dreaded the departure of their beloved Lords.
If you take a close look at Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s face, you will see a flower petal there making it look as if he is crying. It reminded me of the song “Lalasamayi Prarthana”.
In his famous song, Narottama Dasa Thakura, a great spiritual leader of the Vaishnava community in the 16th century, asks “‘gauranga’ bolite habe pulaka sarira,’” (When will that opportune moment come to us when there will be shivering of the body as soon as we chant Lord Gauranga’s name?) And after the shivering –”’hari hari’ bolite nayane ba’be nira” (While chanting Hare Krsna, there will be tears in the eyes).
And so last week, Gauranga did indeed make the Malaysian devotees shiver and weep, all as part of his eternal exchanges of love.