Along with celebration of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial,
the eight day long opening ceremony of Shri Radha Govin
dham started at Sri Radha-Govinda Dhama Cultural Center
on April 15. Festivities included two days of Deity
installation ceremonies, a parade with horses and elephants,
visits by government and other dignitaries, performances
by internationally known entertainers, and Vedic rituals.
The temple hosted several religious and cultural programs,
featuring famous artists Hema Malini, Bhupendra Mitali
Singh, Pandit Jasraj, Anup Jalota, and Meenakshi Sheshadri.
ISKCON players from Vrindavan Rasa and Gurukula Vaikuntha
performed dramas, and Radha-Govinda Maharaja narrated
the Srimad-Bhagavatam in Hindi.
The inauguration started with large fire ceremony conducted
by the Mayapur gurukula students under the guidance
of Bhakti Vidya Puran Maharaja. The hall was festive
with colored rice patterns, earthenware pots, and flower
decorations, pujaris chanting Vedic hymns, and colorful
lighting inside and out.
The next day, Ramnavami (Lord Rama's Appearance) disciples
of Srila Prabhupada and sannyasis bathed the Deities,
and while singing Vedic mantras, installed them on the
intricately carved Burmese wood altar decorated with
After that, thousands of Ahmedabad inhabitants watched
as temple members and friends conducted a Ratha-yatra
celebrating Lord Rama's Appearance. The eight-mile-long
(17 km) procession with horse-drawn chariots, elephants,
and a canopied ratha carrying the Deities toured major
parts of the city, including the headquarters of the
Indian Space Research Institute. Praveen Pitrodia, Mahesh
Patel, and their staff built the wooden ratha for the
occasion. People flocked to view the forms of the Lord
and His associates, offer flowers and fruits, and accept
packets of free prasadam. Devotee children dressed up
to depict the pastimes of Lord Krishna, Lord Ramachandra,
and Lord Chaitanya.
On April 17 the official opening took place
with thousands of devotees, Life Members, and well-wishers
from various parts of the world assembling at the temple.
The then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shankar
Sinh Vaghela, cut the ribbon on the door. The
Govindam prayers echoed for the first time in the new
hall as members began the worship ceremony.
On April 22 devotees offered a special feast
to the exquisite black marble Deity of Sri Srinathji.
More than 20,000 guests honored a full meal
of Krishna prasadam that day, and devotees distributed
thousands of other prasadam packets to visitors.
The temple opening completes the first phase of building
at the Ahmedabad center. The second phase will include
a 200-seat audio visual multimedia theater depicting
scenes from Vedic scriptures, a 200-seat amphitheater,
a transcendental exhibition with 40 dioramas (dolls),
and a multimedia exhibition developed by ISKCON in Los
Angeles and Detroit that is designed to teach visitors
about Krishna consciousness. The plan also includes
ponds, flower beds, and fountains.
The project is headed by Yasomatinandan dasa,
who came to Gujarat after Srila Prabhupada instructed
him to spread Krishna consciousness in the state.