for ISKCON News on Sept. 21, 2012
There is a very special holy place located in central Spain about 100 kilometers east of Madrid, Spain's capital city.
It is geographically right outside the little town of Brihuega, near Guadalajara. It is a small farm community, with flower and vegetable gardens, a couple of small greenhouses, a beautiful goshala right across the road from the temple, and then a larger goshalla down the road.
They have approximately 12 cows and 2 bulls that are definitely pampered and adored. They provide the milk for the milksweets and curd used in the daily Deity offerings.
The farm is about 300 hectares in size and has roughly about 40 devotees living on and close to the land. But the most wonderful residents of New Vraja Mandala are Their Lordships, Sri-Sri Radha-Govinda Chandra, Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai, and a most beautiful golden, Laksmi-Nrshingha sitting atop Ananta Sesa. Of course, we can't forget Giri-Govardhana and also a stunning Garuda atop a pillar gazing in adoration of Their Lordships on the altar.
Although it is a great struggle to maintain such a farm, the community is rich in both spirit and in devotional service. The Deities are always dressed in the most exquisite outfits bedecked with hand-sewn jewels and embroidery. Many of the outfits are sewn by the devotees, and some are made in India, but all are intricately designed and sewn with true love of God.
All the flower garlands used in the warm seasons are from the garden, where they grow many different types of marigolds, nastursiums, zinnias, roses, and big smiling sunflowers. The altar vases are also made up from these flowers.
They have begun the Bhaktivedanta College for Vedic studies there, by the grace of Yadunandana Swami, and is now in it's second year. This is helping to bring new devotees to the farm, where they study and also participate in all the temple acivities and perform devotional service. They are planning to add some English classes to make the studies more available to devotees that don't speak Spanish.
On Janmastami, they have programs throughout the day. The evening brings a swanboat ride for the small Radha-Govinda Chandra Deities on their little "ghat" - a large swimming pool. Some devotees climb in the pool to steady the swan boat, other devotees take turns pulling the rope on the front of the boat, while another devotee fans their Lordships from inside the pool. Of course, there is constant kirtan while this pastime takes place. This year the weather had been so hot, about 40 degrees Celsius which is in the 90's F so all the kids wound up in the pool alongside the swanboat, splashing and laughing, and having a wonderful time in the association of the Vaisnavas.
Each year at Janmastami time, they also have a wonderful festival called - "El Dia De La Vaca". It's kind of like Gopastami. They start the festival by carrying Srila Prabhupada's murti down to the goshalla, accompanied by a big harinam. Then they have Guru Puja in the Goshalla, and then an arotik in honor of the cows. Then they bring Srila Prabhupada back to the temple. There is also a huge feast offered on the day with lots of sweet rice and curd preparations in honor of the Cows.
Then at night, everyone goes back down to the Goshalla for the "party." First Yadunandana Swami gives a little talk in thanks to the wonderful devotees headed by Bhakta Roberto, who take care of the cows. And then he tells about the progress over the past year, and then opens the night to entertainment, prasadam, plays, dancing, kirtan, and fundraising for the goshalla. Everything sold that night is to raise laksmi for the cows, they usually have t-shirts, incense, cow chaddars, calendars, books, and misc. items along with veggie burgers, cookies in the shapes of cows, cake, drinks, and snacks. Then the fun begins with some Bharat Natyam dancing, a play and the highlight of the event, "Cows in Love" - the local Hare Krishna Band, that sing delightful Krishna music to R& R and Reggae beats.
By the end of the night, no one is sitting, everyone is dancing and laughing and coming together as family under the beautiful starlight Spanish skies.
Then the first Spanish Kirtan Festival was inaugurated by Bhaktivaibhava Swami with enlivening classes each morning and then kirtan for three days.
2013 will mark the 30th anniversary of the installation of Their Lordships, Sri-Sri Radha-Govinda Chandra, and there are great plans coming up to celebrate in Nueva Vrajamandala where everyone is welcome.
For more information please visit http://www.nuevavrajamandala.com