Parama Ekadashi in Purushottam 2010

The last Ekadashi of Purushottam – Parama Ekadashi - was a scream. We had to make it big, since you see, such a great day would now come only three years later. As a result, we got together and arranged a mega-Holy Name ceremony in our colony. All were required to bring our individual Lalla, two plates, and some rice. As soon as it was two O’ clock noon, all matajis, and also a few pitajis, marched into the local Radha-Krishna mandir (called Shakti Dham), each holding aloft her / his Laddu Gopal. All of a sudden we found ourselves gurgling and making little cooing noises as we pored over each other’s darlings. The little Laddu Gopals sat tightly, in their blaring dazzling clothes in the sweltering summer heat – tolerantly accepting all the molly-cuddling. Our Neelu, of course, I really shouldn’t be saying this – but hogged the limelight.
We stepped inside the mandir with tumultuous cries of “Krishna Kanhaiyalal ki Jay !!! Vrindavan Bihari Lal ki Jay !!!” Surprisingly (well, at least I found it surprising) – that everyone calmly took position in vertical queues – no rushing, jostling or pushing. Then we took neat asans, and sat in lines. The next few minutes were spent in arranging pur little darlings on their respective thrones. Some had got mega-sized plates and placed their Gopal gingerly in one corner of the plate. My Neelu too sat proudly atop his velvet throne, covered with golden-designed-Dubai-export-quality red velvet. My , my , did he look royal ? You bet !! Everyone was telling me to turn him this side and that to get a glimpse of him. Neelu played his part of a perfect ‘Lady’s man’ – if you know what I mean – with some of the matajis ejaculating in their sin-song voices – “Aapka Neelmani kitnaaaaa pyara haiiiiiiiii !!!!!” You can see how he is staring all around, feeling very regal indeed in his jumbo-turban.
Then we chanted a lot of Krishna-stutis from Srimad Bhagavatam and Mukunda-mala stotram. A few verses from Krishna-Karnamritam were also thrown in. The mandir was full choc-a-boc and all chanted in unison. So it sounded gloriously sweet. The pujari of the mandir, along with two of his assistants, brought in huge sacks full of Tulsi leaves, and each if us got two bundles. We placed them on one plate. I was again surprised to note that the Tulsi leaves actually had fragrance !! Usually the leaves we get in Bombay are all born of fertilizers, are disclored, smell and taste awful. If you reverently swallow one prasadi leaf, you start feeling poisoned. The heady and sweet aroma of Tulasi was enough to get us all charged up. The pujari sat down along with us, holding a mike. He uttered one Holy Name after another, and we repeated after him. We offered one Tulsi leaf to our Gopalji, repeating one Holy Name. In this manner, we offered one thousand Tulasi leaves, chanting one thousand Holy Names (sahasranaamam). Neelu looked Sooo cute !! I marveled at him as the tulasi leaves crowded slowly upto his neck. There, can you see him peering through the Tulasis?
After this we performed aarati, and sang “Govind mero hai, Gopal mero hai”with great gusto and enthusiasm. The sankirtan was rounded off with Hare-Krishna Mahamantra and a lot of “Radhe Radhe”.  Ultimately we left with highly delectable sandesh prasaadam.
I was so ecstatic when I returned home, holding Neelu on a plate covered with Tulasi, with every passer-by on the road giving me joyous looks. While going, Neelu had gone in a basket, peering out all the while, with his nose just out of the basket. While returning, he solemnly sat on the plate. Here you can see him on the Temple-floor.

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