Devotees serve sanctified food (prasadam) to the thousands of guests at the annual Shantipur festival.
Devotees from ISKCON’s headquarters in Mayapur, India gathered in the nearby town of Shantipur this March 8 to celebrate the annual festival there.
The Shantipur festival is held in the house of fifteenth century saint Advaita Acarya, one of the four primary associates of Shri Chaitanya, the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
The event is a popular draw, as Vaishnava scriptures say that anyone who gives or receives prasada (sacred food) during the festival is guaranteed love of God.
Devotees, headed by organizer Nitai Prasad Dasa, left Mayapur early to begin preparing the huge quantities of food needed for mass distribution at the event – nearly 5,000 attend every year. Regular leader Jayapataka Swami was not able to attend due to health conditions, but instead received a personal visit from Prashant Goswami, the 14th in a line of direct descendants from Advaita Acarya.
During their talks, Jayapataka Swami mentioned that ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada had liked the town of Shantipur so much that he might have established ISKCON’s headquarters there if he hadn’t acquired land in Mayapur first.
Despite Jayapataka Swami’s absence, the festival was well attended by senior devotees, including Gopal Krsna Goswami, Subhag Swami, Mahavishnu Swami, and Kavicandra Swami.
After a morning talk on the life and times of Advaita Acarya, an audience congregated at the event’s main stage for a presentation by West Bengal’s former Governer and current Human Rights Special Commissioner, as well as a performance by a popular local singer.
Devotees then served food to thousands of pilgrims before eating lunch in the very house where Shri Chaitanya, Nityananda and Advaita Acarya once ate and blessed all their followers.
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