Banabehari Mandir

Hare KrishnaBy Haripriya Devi Dasi

“My alarm clock rings. It is 5:00 a.m. on a summer morning in Saranagati Village, and it’s almost time for mangal arati. After getting ready, I step outside into a crisp and quiet morning. Picking a flower from our garden for Their Lordships, I jog up the hill on the way to my favorite place, Banabehari Mandir. Once at the top, I look down towards the ashram and see dim yellow lights shining through the early morning mist. Coming up to the beautiful stained-glass tilak door, I lightly knock—and almost immediately, my favorite voice answers, ‘Haribol! Come in!’ Slowly opening the door and stepping in, I say, ‘Haribol!’ From the kitchen I hear, ‘Oh, choti Haripriya! I’m so happy you are here! I’ve been thinking of you!’ Yamuna walks around the corner with a warm smile. She wraps me up in a tight embrace, and I squeeze my eyes shut and hug her, cherishing every moment in her arms. After a few seconds, Yamuna takes me by the hand and leads me towards the temple room. Before entering, she taps the hanging chimes, which ring in a high, sweet pitch. Wafts of incense mixed with the fragrance of flowers meet my nose. I hear Dina behind the Deity curtain, humming beautiful tunes as she prepares for arati. On this and every time I come to Banabehari Mandir, I think, ‘This is what the spiritual world must be like. I am home.’