JUN 2017

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Festival of the Chariots

By Ambika devi dasi

Early next month, the New Govardhana community celebrates Ratha-yatra. Ratha-yatra, or ‘Festival of the Chariots’ originated in Jagannatha Puri in eastern India, and has been held annually for thousands of years. It takes place in June/July each year and is attended by millions.

The smiling face of Lord Jagannatha, in Puri, Odisha, India

The smiling face of Lord Jagannatha,in Puri, Odisha, India

Usually the Deities of Lord Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra are worshipped within the temple of Jagannatha Puri, but on the day of the Rath-yatra festival They are taken through the streets, so that everyone can have the good fortune of seeing Their beautiful forms.

Richly decorated chariots, resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Jagannatha Puri. In this way, the annual journey of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, and their sister Subhadra to the Gundica Temple takes place. This Gundica temple is situated 2km from Their massive temple in the centre of Puri.

Those attending the festival have an earnest desire to help pull the chariots with long ropes at the front of each cart. Everyone sings the holy names of the Lord, accompanied by drums, tambourines and kartalas. Children also enjoy pulling the ropes and singing the Lord’s holy names for Their pleasure.

Millions flock to the Ratha-yatra in Odisha, India.

Millions flock to the Ratha-yatra in Odisha, India.

This festival represents the Lord’s dear gopi devotees taking Him from His opulent situation in Kurukshetra 5000 years ago, back to rural Vrindavana, so that they may again serve Him and please Him in the intimate environment of the Vrindavana forest.

As devotees pull the ropes, they are praying to Krishna that they may pull Him into their hearts. The festival is therefore a very joyous and prayerful occasion.

This Festival of Chariots was first performed outside of India on 9 July, 1967 in San Francisco, under the supervision of ISKCON’s Founder- Acharya His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Since that first parade in 1967, Ratha-yatra has been performed repeatedly in many major cities in the world, providing uplifting devotional kirtanas, wonderful darshanas of the transcendental forms of the Lord, plenty of vibrant colour and an atmosphere saturated in spiritual happiness.

Source: www.mirathyatra.com

Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada Uvaca

When the shopkeepers of many other villages heard about the festival [Chida Dahi Utsava], they arrived there to sell chipped rice, yogurt, sweetmeats and bananas. As they came, bringing all kinds of food, Raghunatha dasa purchased it all. He gave them the price for their goods and later fed them the very same food. Anyone who came to see how these funny
things were going on was also fed chipped rice, yogurt and bananas.

After Lord Nityananda Prabhu finished eating, He washed His hands and mouth and gave Raghunatha dasa the food remaining in the four pots. There was food remaining in the three other big pots of Lord Nityananda, and a brahmana distributed it to all the devotees, giving a morsel to each. Then a brahmana brought a flower garland, placed the garland
on Nityananda Prabhu’s neck and smeared sandalwood pulp all over His body.

When a servant brought betel nuts and offered them to Lord Nityananda, the Lord smiled and chewed them. With His own
hands Lord Nityananda Prabhu distributed to all the devotees whatever flower garlands, sandalwood pulp and betel nuts

After receiving the remnants of food left by Lord Nityananda Prabhu, Raghunatha dasa, who was greatly happy, ate some
and distributed the rest among his own associates. Thus have I described the pastimes of Lord Nityananda Prabhu in relation to the celebrated festival of chipped rice and yogurt.

Excerpt from Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya Lila, Chapter 6

Valued Conch member departs

By Krishnarupa devi dasi

On Sunday, 30 April a much-loved member of the New Govardhana community and highly valued editorial board participant on The Conch newsletter peacefully left his body at home in Murwillumbah.


Govardhana Seva dasa was an active and much-loved member of the ISKCON community at New Govardhana.

After nine years of battling cancer and kidney failure, Govardhana Seva dasa’s heart began to fail. He decided, in consultation with his beloved wife, Ekadasi devi dasi, Doctor Wellum, their local doctor, and his kidney specialist, Doctor Krishnan Sankunni, to cease his home dialysis treatment, and to leave his body at home, as his end was near.

With many devotees chanting all day for more than 10 days in their home, daily skype calls from his spiritual master, Janananda Goswami, and scripture readings, Govardhana Seva was peaceful and joyful right to the end.

Govardhana Seva’s usual wits and stock of jokes was still evident as he sweetly said his goodbyes to all of us left here to miss him so greatly. Govardhana Seva’s wife, Ekadasi, and their three sons, Steven, Gary and David said, “I would also like to thank everyone who helped Govardhana Seva through their thoughts, kirtana, flower gifts, bringing prasadam, and being so helpful in many ways. Your support was very much appreciated.”

Thank you Govardhana Seva for being such a joy, greeting guests to New Govardhana, devotedly working on our community newsletter and being a friend to all. We will miss you so very much – until we meet again, dear Govardhana Seva Prabhu.


By Syama Sakhi devi dasi

Kalindi at the vet station in town.

Kalindi at the vet station in town.

From the 10–14 April, the Year 10 students went for their first work experience this year. After the success of the program in 2016, the school decided to continue encouraging the students to experience different work placements throughout their Year 10 studies.

Gemini at Crystal Warehouse, Byron Bay

Gemini at Crystal Warehouse, Byron Bay

Thus, Karuna, Cintamani, Balaram, Vrinda, Gemini and Kalindi had the opportunity to spend a week at a job environment of their choice.

Karuna, being interested in law, worked at the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre in Lismore, while Gemini was placed at the Crystal Warehouse in Byron Bay.

Cintamani did a sterling job, juggling two employers at once, working for KidzKlub Australia and The Byron Bay Community Centre. Balaram spent the week working as a kitchen aid at the Cardamom Pod in Broadbeach.

Vrinda decided to try work in the Kingscliff library, and Kalindi spent her week at the Vet station in town. The overall feedback from their employers was marvellous. The employers were very pleased with the students’ diligence, keen attention to detail, ability to take responsibility, and their overall mood and attitude.

Vrinda at Kingscliff Library.

Vrinda at Kingscliff Library.

We were very pleased to hear such positive feedback from the employers as it reflected the wonderful attitude of the Hare Krishna School students. And what a delightful preaching opportunity it was to see these young devotees enter into the workforce while making a strong positive impression about themselves, their beliefs and their Hare Krishna community.

It is a delightful privilege to see these young devotee students grow into responsible and caring citizens. We wish them all the best and congratulate them on their success in this work experience program.


By Lalita Ickrath

A weekly playgroup has formed at New Govardhana temple for children aged up to four years old. The idea was born when I realised that there was no regular arrangement for the young kids to meet and play at the temple, aside from the busy Sunday feast program.

The playgroup meets on Wednesdays 10.30am–12.30pm on the grass area in front of the temple during school term time, with the option to stay for lunch prasadam served at 12.30pm. We would like to welcome all parents of young children to take this wonderful opportunity for their children (and themselves!) to socialise in a Krishna conscious environment.

Please note that a parent or guardian must be present with the child for the entire playgroup session. The playgroup is free, but we ask participants to donate some toys or craft supplies (second-hand or new) or to give a small financial contribution so that the organisers are able to buy these items.

The playgroup is a relaxed environment and flows in the direction set by the children, a mixture of free play and some organised activities, depending on the age of the children present. Playgroups run nicely when they are a shared responsibility between all involved parents, so your input and suggestions on activities are welcomed and encouraged. If you have a special skill or knowledge in an area, we would love for you to share it.

All members of the New Govardhana community are welcome to donate to the playgroup any toys or equipment they no longer need.


For more information or to register, please contact either Lalita on 0405 462 176 or Manjulali devi dasi on
0405 663 824 or via New Govardhana Playgroup on Facebook.


By Kisori devi dasi

The flood in April has come and gone, after doing great damage to many. Now most of the cleaning has been done, but many people are now feeling overwhelmed about how to rebuild their properties and their lives.

Depression and anxiety might be creeping in, and there might be a sense of not coping. Please see your GP and have a chat if you need to. Help is also available at Lifeline, which is open 24 hours on 13 11 14, and NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 for more details and referral information.

Murwillumbah Town Centre
Scenes from the devastation caused by Cyclone Debbie in the Murwillumbah area

ISKCON Communications Wins Prestigious Awards

From iskconnews.org

The award-winning The Hare Krishnas – Celebrating 50 years magazine.

The award-winning The Hare Krishnas – Celebrating 50 years magazine.

At the 2017 Religion Communicators Council (RCC) annual DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards ceremony in Chicago, Illinois on 30 March, ISKCON Communications won several awards for excellence in religion communications.

The Hare Krishnas – Celebrating 50 years magazine won a merit award for single-issue periodicals and an
award for excellence in overall design. In addition, The Joy of Devotion film won a Best of Class award.

ISKCON Communications won several awards for excellence in religion communications.

The panel of judges for the awards, which included journalism professors and newspaper editors from both
religious and secular organisations, praised The Joy of Devotion film, saying: “It was an excellent production that invokes emotional and spiritual connections and increases understanding.”

Anuttama dasa, International Minister of Communications, accepted the Best of Class award on behalf of
ISKCON Communications and the film’s creator and director, Krishnalila dasi, as well as his co-producers
on the film Bhakti Caru Swami and Pancharatna dasa.

He also accepted the awards of excellence and merit on behalf of the 50th magazine’s executive editors, Mukunda Goswami and Krishnarupa devi dasi, project manager Bhakta dasa, designer Ramprasad dasa and the rest of the editorial staff.


By Mandakini devi dasi

Six months ago, Krishna Village Agricultural and Volunteer Manager Damodara Govinda dasa and Kitchen Manager Sanatani Rombola decided to modernise and enhance the popular Friday Pizza Night. Since then pizza nights have truly been on fire!

Sanatani Rombola preparing pizza at the Krishna Village.

Sanatani Rombola preparing pizza at the Krishna Village.

With the help of volunteers, they researched how to build a new oven to replace the old one, which was falling apart and restricted to producing only one pizza at a time. The subsequent new model cooks three at a time and Sanatani claims, with the improved flour recipes, the taste is “amazing”. Instead of using just white self-raising flour, a mix of quality wholewheat and plain flour without any additives is making the difference. The dough is also prepared the previous day.

When available, fresh vegetables from the garden are used. With the present surplus of basil, Sanatani has created a new tasty vegan pesto topping. Vegan mozzarella and gluten free recipes also feature on the menu, keeping everyone happy.

The gathering area has also been upgraded and the overhead cover provides protection from the rain. A cheerful bonfire completes the scene. Dining commences at 5.30pm in the winter and 6.30pm in the summer.

Kirtana and various improvised entertainment is relished by the guests and volunteers who look forward to Fridays, signalling the end of the working week.

Pizza prices are $12 or $15.


By Venugopal dasa

It seems almost everyone likes mangos – after all, it is the king of fruits and the fruit of kings. So we are certainly blessed to have plentiful mangos growing here on New Govardhana. Even in a bad season, of which we have many, there is still an abundance of fruits to be found for Shri Shri Radha Govardhanadhari.

Everything about mango trees is beneficial. The fruits, the leaves, the flowers and the bees, the timber – even the shade of the mango tree – are auspicious.


In the mid 1990s, about 95 young mango trees were purchased from a defunct mango farm on Old Lismore Road. Unfortunately, due to lack of manpower, they remained in their pots for nearly two years, taking the brunt of neglect from devotees and much gastronomic abuse from the bullocks.

Young mango saplings

Young mango saplings

But mangos are tough and despite not much water and regular bullock munching, most survived their wild turbulent youth in those undersized pots.

I remember visiting New Govardhana one time and to my great surprise I saw those mangos trees all planted out around the temple grounds and top orchard. However, there was a problem – they had been planted too close together. These little trees grew healthy and strong and, despite the unpredictable nature of good mango seasons in this area, they have managed to supply mangos most years. There has also been the odd season of plenty with so many mangos that we would freeze them for use throughout the year.

After 25-odd years these once little mango trees have become incredibly crowded out and totally intertwined. The inevitable time arrived to finally do something.

Heavy pruning took place last month with the help of a professional arborist. The trees will benefit enormously with room to rejuvenate with vigour and strength. Also, the vastu of the temple compound is now free from claustrophobic inauspiciousness, having opened up the northern aspect. The wood from the cuttings will be saved and stored for future fire yajnas. (Mango timber is considered one of the best of all fuels in this regard.)

As a side note, I recently had to thin out and replant a heavily populated, intertwined tulasi grove. They were all suffering the effects of being planted too close to each other. Now the results speak for themselves. They are all so much healthier, stronger and more blissful. Of course, we don’t prune tulasi but heavy pruning methods are regularly employed with many trees and plants like rose bushes, grapes vines and older mangos trees with remarkable results.


At New Govardhana, the general policy of the cow department is that as we encroach on cow land, and cows lose pastures due to construction works or new roads, we try and replace that land by pasture improvement or clearing areas that have been overtaken by camphor laurels and other weeds.

Therefore, while the earthmoving equipment is here we are clearing behind the temple and Gokula dasa and Vilasa Manjari devi dasi’s house, where we’ve lost land due to the forest impinging on the cow pasture.

Some of the lush pasturing grounds of New Govardhana.

Some of the lush pasturing grounds of New Govardhana.

As the cow/bull program expands, so also does the need for clear pastures. Krsna Kirtan dasa and Bhaktine Clare are establishing daily training in front of Gokula and Vilasa’s house so the bulls learn to pull and till the fields.

Some of the cows are also coming over from Gita Govinda devi dasi’s side.

In April Jyestha devi dasi and Rupa Ragunatha dasa were married at Riva Vue, Murwillumbah. Congratulations to the happy couple.

In April Jyestha devi dasi and Rupa Ragunatha dasa were married at
Riva Vue, Murwillumbah.
Congratulations to the happy couple.



The Conch is your community newsletter, and we invite you to submit articles for publication. Articles should be 300 words or less and supplied in MS Word via email to caroleditor@gmail.com.

Photographs must be in JPG format. Please provide the name of the author and the photographer. Anonymous submissions will not be published.

Deadline is the 12th of each month.

Occasionally a submission could be held over to a later edition. All submissions will be edited, proofread and may be rejected without notice.

Krishnarupa devi dasi (ACBSP), Manjulali devi dasi, Kisori devi dasi and Jhulan dasi

Urvasi devi dasi and Jhulan devi dasi.

HH Mukunda Goswami, Paul Bailey, Jhulan devi dasi and Visnujana das

Contact: info@conch.org.au


Snana Yatra / Panihati Festivals

Sunday, 11 June 2017
  • 12pm Arati and kirtana
  • 12.30pm Class
  • 1pm Snana yatra
  • 2.30pm Panihati auction
  • 4pm Arati kirtana – Hati Vesa darshan
  • 4.45pm Deities leave temple in procession
  • 5pm Feast

Mayapur Chandras

13 – 16 June 2017

A department of ISKCON Mayapur, this group of second generation devotees are all expertly trained in the various devotional arts, and come together to spread the traditional Gaudiya Vaisnava culture of Sri Mayapur Dhama to centres around the world. Mayapur Chandras organise different pilgrimages in Gaura Mandala Bhumi.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Classes

given by Naru Gopal dasa 14, 15 & 16 June

Gaura Lila Discussions and Kirtana at 5pm

with Naru Gopal dasa, Bhakti Vinod dasa and Narahari dasa 14, 15 & 16 June

Bhaktivinoda Thakura Disappearance

Saturday, 24 June 2017
  • 7.30am Class on Bhaktivinoda Thakura
  • 10am Bhajanas and readings
  • 11.45am Prasada offered to Bhaktivinoda Thakura
  • 11.50am Puspanjali
  • 12pm Guru puja, arati and kirtana
  • 12.30pm Feast


(from Vaishnava calendar www.vaisnavacalendar.com)

4 Sun Baladeva Vidyabhusana – disappearance
Gangamata Gosvamini – disappearance
Ganga Puja
5 Mon Ekadasi – Pandava Nirjala Ekadasi (suitable for fasting)
6 Tue Dvadasi – Break fast 6.32am–10am
7 Wed Panihati Cida Dahi Utsava
9 Fri Snana yatra
11  Sun   Panihati Cida Dahi Utsava Snana yatra observed today
20 Tue Ekadasi (not suitable for fasting)
Srivasa Pandita – disappearance
21 Wed Dvadasi – Yogini Ekadasi (suitable for fasting)
22 Tue Trayodasi – Break fast 6.38am–10.04am
24 Sat Gadadhara Pandita – disappearance
Bhaktivinoda Thakura – disappearance (fast today)
25 Sun Gundica Marjana
26 Mon Ratha-yatra
Svarupa Damodara – disappearance

© 2017 The Conch copyright of New Govardhana www.conch.org.au