News, 2016

December 2016

Happy New Year! After November’s challenges, it was such a relief last month to be back to our prasadam distribution service as usual. Construction of the kitchen has been put on hold yet again. This time it’s because the government has been cutting down buildings on either side of the Parikrama Marg to widen the roads for the huge numbers of pilgrims who regularly visit. Since our property borders the Parikrama Marg, we are going the cautionary route of confirming that any structures we build will be safe from government encroachment. However, we are certainly not stuck in a mode of waiting. We are presently looking for a larger rental facility in Radha Kunda that will accommodate feeding more widows. And we are excited to announce a newly formed partnership with Vishakha Dasi’s Kid’s Seva at Govardhan! We are happy to have been requested to support her endeavors to offer education and other care to the poorer children of Govardhan and Radha Kunda. Please see more about her project here. http://radharani.com/kids-seva-at-govardhana/ All along, we’ve been working with Food For Life Vrindavan to assist their service of offering education to the poor children of the Vraja area. The kitchen, once built will serve a double purpose – feeding those in need in the general area, and feeding the children who attend the Sandipani Muni School being built by Food for Life on the property adjacent to ours. And yet, why wait? Vishakha Dasi is already educating children and needs our help. We are ready! Thank you for being part of the team! Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com. Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

November 2016

What a ride this last month has been! And it’s not over yet. November started out innocently enough. We were only halfway through the holy month of Kartika, and the crowds of pilgrims were as persistent as before. Our cleaners managed to keep up with the trash and our cooks kept feeding our widows and the parikrama pilgrims… until… a number of Radha Kunda residents and visitors came down with apparent food poisoning following the Govardhana Puja festivities, though, luckily, none of our folks were afflicted. When three people died of the ailment, the Nagar Panchayat (local government) decided to place a ban on the selling or distribution of prepared food in the Radha Kunda area. Consequences for disobeying the edict were dire. Anyone caught selling or distributing cooked food was soundly beaten. And although the sickness turned out to be caused by cholera contaminated water and we only use RO filtered water for cooking, our prasadam distribution had to be halted for nearly 3 weeks.

To add insult to injury, on November 8th, in an anti-corruption bid, Prime Minister Modi announced that all large currency – 500 and 1000 rupee bills – were now rendered useless. Our manager, Abhay Charan Prabhu had just withdrawn 50,000 rupees in 500 and 1000 rupee bills. Fortunately, he was able to immediately turn around and deposit them back into the bank account. But, ATM machines would only give 2000 rupees per day instead of the 10,000 they used to impart, and banks were loath to give 4000 rupees, often giving nothing since they had run out of small change. Five hour bank lines became the new “parikrama” as everyone, including our Abhay Charan scrambled each day for every last available 100 rupee, 50 rupee, and 10 rupee bill. Several times during the month, we received 10,000 rupees from the bank in 10 rupee notes.

In terms of emotional value, 100s have become the new 1000, 50s the new 500, and 10s the new 100. And yet, their actual monetary value has remained unchanged. A 100 rupee bill is still only worth around $1.50. And so, just to make ends meet, bank lines remain the daily ritual. Besides food shops, all stores have been closed, people have been making bonfires of useless bills and police have been beating off folks who, after spending hours in lines, angrily demand small change from the bank’s empty coffers. We’ve had to elicit the help of members of our Padma Charitable Trust board who’ve dug deep into their personal bank accounts in order to collect the necessary funds to keep our service going.

Between a shortage of funds and the ban on food distribution, the widows struggled for their daily sustenance. We were able to provide them with raw ingredients to cook their own meals in their tiny ashram homes. However, cooking like this means struggling to breathe because of cooking in very confined areas with little or no ventilation using whatever scraps of wood and dried cow dung patties (gobar ulpa) they could scavenge. Even obtaining dry cow dung cooking patties was a struggle since with the money shortage, people that would normally use gas tanks to cook, reverted to the old traditional ways causing a shortage of dung patties too!

Meanwhile, the kitchen construction had to be delayed since we don’t have the cash to pay our crew. And yet, when all is said and done, at the moment we are just feeling grateful to be back to daily feeding our Radha Kunda widows again.

Thank you for being part of the team! Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com. Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

October 2016

We pray that this update finds you all experiencing a very propitious and auspicious Kartika, dear friends. We began the month of October with a painting marathon in anticipation of the *millions* of pilgrims who would soon be inundating Radha Kunda to honor Srimati Radharani’s special Kartika month also known as the month of Damodara. As we hoped, construction on the kitchen has begun! Despite half the building crew coming down with chikungunya (similar to dengue fever only worse), they managed to start the work with several deliveries of earth in order to raise the ground at the kitchen site. This is a very important first step since otherwise, the low-lying area would be flood prone during the rainy season. We are so grateful to you, our family of supporters – those of you have newly joined our efforts and those who have so generously increased your donations – for stepping forward to sponsor our widows’ daily meals! We are up to 78 sponsored out the 80 we are presently feeding! We are feeling optimistic that with your help we will be able to reach even more ladies in need. The enthusiasm of the visiting pilgrims and sadhus inspired and enlivened our crew this month. So many festivals! So much color and celebration! Yes, the cleaning work quadruples, but joy is in the air and it’s an honor to serve the Vaishnavas in this way – cleaning and serving prasadam. Jai Sri Radhe! Shyam! Thank you for being part of the team! Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com. Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

September 2016

The sun is shining again and temperatures have cooled slightly. Our crew and our ladies are in good health and we are happy for a return to normalcy. We finally have an actual date set for the construction of the kitchen to begin. We are looking at October 15th, just a week away! October 15th is also just two days before the start of the holy month of Kartika, a very auspicious day to begin auspicious work. Thank you, dear friends, for continuing to come forward to feed the widows of Radha Kunda! We are now up to 75 out of 80 sponsored! That means that of the 23 left without sponsorship three months ago, daily meals for 18 are now covered! We are so grateful to be able to stand by our commitment to keep feeding them. The gardens are flourishing and the cleaning continues. Thank you for being part of the team! Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com. Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

August 2016

The rains were relentless this month. And while our gardens and the foliage carpeting the Holy Dhama soaked it up with relish, our crew and the ladies we care for suffered from monsoon related ailments like dengue fever, typhoid, and malaria. And yet, our workers soldiered on, covering for each other when needed, and showing up for their services as soon as they were able. And our ladies’ medical needs were covered thanks to your generous contributions! So far so good. Everyone has survived a challenging rainy season. Like last month, we had to serve the feast to our Radha Kunda ladies in packets-to-go since the rain wouldn’t let up long enough for them to sit comfortably (albeit a little cramped) in our small rented facility as they usually do. But again, they were happy to collect a feast-to-go. 🙂 Thank you, dear friends, for coming forward so enthusiastically to support feeding these worthy Radha Kunda ladies. We began this month with 62 widows sponsored out of the 80 we are presently feeding, and with your help we are now at 70 sponsored! http://radharani.com/daily-meals/ A major donor who was sponsoring 23 widows has retired and is now living much more simply, but because of you, 13 more are again sponsored! Thank you!!! We are excited to announce that construction on the kitchen is supposed to begin this month! We will keep you updated with the developments as they happen. Everything was on pause due to the very heavy monsoon season. Tomorrow is Radhastami, the appearance of Srimati Radharani. Her holy lake, Radha Kunda is non-different from Her, and as such any service we do here is service directly to our Swamini, Sri Radha. Thank you for joining our humble efforts to serve our Lord’s beloved Lady. Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com. Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

July 2016

It’s raining! ..and raining some more in Govardhan. This is good of course, but also adds challenges to our various services.

July 18th was Guru Purnima, the biggest parikrama day of the year. And sure enough, it was as busy as ever. But it was raining! Non-stop rain. Fortunately, by Radha and Krishna’s mercy we were able to distribute prasad as we usually do on the full moon day each month.

On the 28th, we prepared our monthly feast for the widows of Radha Kunda. But again, it was raining. We couldn’t serve them sitting down in the courtyard of our temporary facility as we usually do, but had to give them packets-to-go instead. They were happy to get a feast-to-go. So no worries. 🙂

Thank you, dear friends for so generously stepping up to sponsor daily prasad meals and medical care for our ladies in Radha Kunda. Of the 23 who had lost their funding, 5 are now fully sponsored! Thank you!!! It’s such a relief to know that we will be able to keep caring for them. We are hopeful that more sponsors will come forward for the remaining 18.

As always, in spite of the rain, daily cleaning and prasadam distribution are continuing. And we are excited that construction on the kitchen is scheduled to start after the rainy season stops!

Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com.
Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

 

June 2016

It’s been hot, hot, hot! And many of our crew have been getting sick and sicker. But life goes on in the Dham, as does our cleaning and prasadam distribution there.

It was with both gratitude and sorrow that we said good bye this month to a donor who was contributing around 25% of the expenses for our daily prasadam distribution to the widows of Radha Kunda. If you would like to help sponsor one of the 23 ladies now in need of support, please visit… http://radharani.com/daily-meals/

Time is ticking and the temple is looking more and more beautiful. September is just two months away and we are looking forward to construction beginning on the kitchen! To see more about this project please visit… http://radharani.com/build-a-kitchen/

The gardens are thriving. (Yep, they like the heat.) Thousands of pilgrims are still going on parikrama. (They don’t seem to mind the heat.) And the cleaning continues daily. (Our cleaning crew manages to brave the heat.)

Thank you for being a part of our endeavor to clean and serve at Radha Kunda and Govardhan.

Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com.
Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

 

May 2016

The carvings on the dome of Srila Prabhupada’s temple are complete! And what a beautiful dome it is. We are excited for September when the temple is scheduled to be finished and the kitchen construction started.

If you’d like to be a part of prasadam distribution in Radha Kunda, this is an excellent opportunity. More about the project at http://radharani.com/build-a-kitchen/

The service of cleaning and prasadam distribution in Radha Kunda and Govardhan is continuing despite these days of extreme heat. The gardens seem to love the heat seeing how lush and green they are. And the local children love how clean Sakhi Kunda is! Great for swimming!

Our chenna prasada distribution to pilgrims was hugely popular this month. It’s amazing how many pilgrims do Govardhana parikrama during the hot season. Sometimes it seems like more come during the hot season than during the cooler months!

Thank you for being a part of our endeavor to clean and serve at Radha Kunda and Govardhan.

Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com.
Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

 

April 2016

We are excited to share photos with you of the progress on the building of Srila Prabhupada’s temple on the property adjacent to ours in Govardhan. The dome has appeared and is clearly visible from the Govardhana Parikrama path! Construction for the kitchen is scheduled to begin as soon as the temple is complete.

If you’d like to be a part of Prasadam distribution in Radha Kunda, this is an excellent opportunity. More about the project at http://radharani.com/build-a-kitchen/

The service of cleaning and prasadam distribution in Radha Kunda and Govardhan is continuing despite these days of extreme heat and sporadic, extreme storms with baseball sized hail.

And on this most auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya (the first day of Chandan Yatra), we want to express our humble gratitude for your support and prayers. Thank you!

Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com.
Your servants, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, Urmila Devi Dasi, and Mayapurcandra dasa.

 

March 2016

March was a quiet, uneventful month of steady seva. Cleaning and prasadam distribution every single day.

We could tell you about all the developments we’re waiting for because… well, because it’s India, but we won’t bore you with all that. I think you know anyway. Kitchen! We’re waiting to build our kitchen!

Only, we’re not waiting and twiddling our thumbs. Thanks to your ongoing support, we get to keep serving and serving.

Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com.
Your servants, Mayapurcandra dasa, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, and Urmila Devi Dasi.

 

February 2016

Today is the most auspicious Maha Shiva Ratri day. Lord Shiva, in his form of Gopeshvara Mahadeva, is the guardian of the Dhama and it is only when he opens the door to the Dhama that one is allowed to live and serve there. Six years ago, on this very day the deal was finalized for the purchase of our land in Govardhan. Now construction has begun on a temple on the land. And our Padma Charitable Trust parcel is waiting and ready for the construction of a kitchen to begin. On this day honoring Lord Shiva, we are praying to him that he open the door so that we can be allowed to continue serving the Dhama and the Dhama Vasis.

This month we share with you the news of Guru dasi’s passing. She had been ill and weak for many months. Your sponsorship of her allowed her some basic comforts in her final days, and we are happy to report that her passing was peaceful and auspicious. We are posting photos of her cremation ceremony. It was beautiful to see how her daughter and friends came together to honor her and chant the Maha Mantra for her eternal spiritual benefit.

And as always there’s our favorite news each month – the cleaning and prasadam distribution are continuing unabated each and every day. All glories to the combined effort of many Vaishnavas both on the ground at Radha Kunda and around the world for coming together to do this service.

Jai Jai Sri Radheeeee, Shyam! Gopeshvara Mahadeva Shiva Shankara ki, Jai!

Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com.
Your servants, Mayapurcandra dasa, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, and Urmila Devi Dasi.

 

January 2016

The crowds gathered in Radha Kunda on New Year’s Eve are a sure sign that the world is discovering the speciality of this most glorious holy place. It’s amazing, really, how many people are able to squeeze into this tiny town. And yet, what a perfect way to launch the New Year – by visiting Radha Kunda.

Even better… what a perfect way to spend each and every day – by serving in Radha Kunda!

The fog was late this year, but it finally showed up mid-month. There’s something so magical and mysterious about the fog, the way it closes in on you and isolates you from the world around you. The cleaning and prasadam distribution continued, each cleaner bustling about in his or her little fog bubble and each prasadam recipient emerging from their fog to join the happy prasadam bubble.

We conducted an informal survey of the widows to get a sense of what their needs are. When it comes to shelter, it is very important to them that they have their own independent housing situation. Most of them have a room that they can use for the remaining years of their life while paying a very minimal rent each month. Since they cannot afford gas for cooking and their rooms don’t have the ventilation to allow them to cook using cowdung, and since some are too elderly and feeble to cook for themselves, they are very grateful to receive a fresh, hot meal each day. The main lacking they expressed is medical care. For a while, we were providing medical care to one particularly old and invalid widow, Guru dasi. And we are finding out, as we suspected, that there is a larger need for medical care among the widows in general.

We are also always thinking of ways to engage the widows who are able in some service. A good number of them are already involved in cleaning and prasadam distribution, and the most recent idea is to set up those who will with book tables selling books on the practice of Bhakti Yoga by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. We already have a widow who is eager to take up this service and we should be launching this project soon.

Meanwhile, we are going ahead and sharing the finished plans for the kitchen and asramas with you. We are waiting for government approval at which point we will need to start construction. We simply hope that the funds we will be ready when that time comes!

We are so grateful for your blessings and support. Jai Jai Sri Radheeeee, Shyam!

Please browse our latest photos and join our efforts by visiting www.radharani.com.
Your servants, Mayapurcandra dasa, Campakalata Devi dasi, Padma Gopi Devi dasi, and Urmila Devi Dasi.