The first anniversary celebrations of the Chicago Gopa Kuteeram started with mild showers! The successful completion year (2009-2010) of the Gopa Kuteeram program was celebrated in grandeur by the Chicago GOD – Gopa Kuteeram team on Oct 23rd from 3 to 6 pm at Eola Community Center in Aurora. The celebration started with a welcome address and invocation.
It was not a banal celebration by any measure. The kids had as much fun in the celebration as they had in their monthly sessions. The place was transformed into Brindavan as our Gopas and Gopis were going to have fun with Krishna! For the parents and audience, they were transformed into Vrajavasis witnessing Krishna Lila – in all, it was ‘an evening in Krishna Lila’.
Everyone was ported to Dwapara Yuga when there was injustice all around. And our Gopas and Gopis know that prayers was the only succor. They beseeched the Lord with Mahamantra and slokas they have learnt over the last year, praying for a relief. And can God remain silent? He decided to descend down as Krishna. And as ‘Rajadhi Raja..Vegathil Varaye…’ was heard, all the Vrajavasis witnessed the Vasudeva carrying the new-born Krishna across Yamuna from Mathura to Gokulam amidst heavy rains.
As the day dawned, it was time for celebration – and the youngest were the first. The little Gopis of age ranging from 3 to 7 danced around Krishna singing ‘Jaya Jaya Govinda Jaya Hari Govinda…’. The slightly elder Gopas and Gopis (7-13 years) couldn’t wait to celebrate. They danced around in a traditional ‘Kolattam’ style – ‘Kuzhandai Kannan ..Mazhalai Pesuvaan….” The mothers of the little Gopas and Gopis sang kirtans too.
Krishna was visibly enjoying His time! He made the Gopas and Gopis dance to His tunes over and over again! And Krishna was old enough to run around stealing butter! And lo! He caught up a tussle with his buddy. Ramya, a 12 year Gopi narrated to us about the tussle through a Bharatanatyam dance and dialog-song – ‘Maraindhu vandhu vennai thirudum Krishna Krishna..’
The other Lilas up until slaying of Kamsa were briefly narrated. And then all were transported to Pandaripura – where Krishna still stands as Panduranga. Everyone was fortunate to witness a wonderful Lila of the Lord. The story of Narahari Sonar – an ardent Shiva devotee was enacted as a beautiful play by the Gopas and Gopis. This portrayed the undeniable truth that the same source of Divinity manifests in different forms to conquer the hearts of His devotees. Adhithya, Varun , Bhavneeth, Anusmara and Shreya played their roles to perfection.
As the kids were enjoying the program themselves as were their parents, it was game time! They grouped into three teams – Krishna, Radha and Rukmani and played the ‘Giridhari’ puzzle, dasavathara sequencing, Crazy Krishna Scrabble, butter pot-coloring and many more games, not to mention the pre-event games like ‘Decorate your Krishna’ etc.
Earlier, Sri Zivan Prakash apprised the parents on the activities of Gopa Kuteeram and plans for the next year.
As the ‘game time’ was on, Sri Narayanan, who came from Boston, started off his talk with an interactive session with the parents. He drove home the fact that our Sanathana Dharma was the most scientific Dharma and how our Gopa Kuteeram program implanted this knowledge in the young ones, especially when they grow up in the current rational world that we live in. He said that, this however was not the primary purpose of our program – it was only a by-product, and that the program was successful in inculcating basic human values like truth, humility, respect – in a unique, fun-filled learning environment. He underlined that beyond this is the beautiful concept of acceptance and love (the lack of which is the cause of most problems in this world) that the program helps implant in the young hearts.
Following this, the Gopa Kuteeram kids’ parents shared about how the Gopa Kuteeram program has brought about a transformation in their kids.
The kids were rewarded under various categories – Regular participation in the monthly Gopa Kuteeram program, their performances in the annual event, most ethnically dressed, best decorated Tanjore Krishna, saving the maximum number of the Gopa Kuteeram materials etc. The kids were happy with their earned ‘Chicago GOD Gopa Kutteram’ engraved trophies, medal and certificates as the proud parents looked on.
The program came to a close with the singing of ‘Kaliyayum Bali Kollum’ song and chanting of the Mahamantra by all. All the kids were given a Gopa hat as a souvenir.
There were around 70 people, including the kids who took part in the celebration. With a very few practice sessions, the kids did an awesome job of performing their roles. The audience which included the parents and grandparents were awestruck at the kids’ performance. The program was a grand success thanks to the hard work and untiring effort of Mrs. Saritha, Mrs. Yamini Zivan, Mrs. Sridevi Jeghan, Mrs. Sujitha and other parents.