I didn't really "get" the service, I kind of "stole" it.
around this time in 2001 - just about 7 years ago to be exact, I visited the radha-krishna temple in javat with my guru maharaj during his yearly parikram. I instantly fell in love with the village, with the crumbling temple (I recently found out it is called the radha-kanta temple), and most especially the deity of srimati radharani. it is a very old village - I mean it is the place where srimati radharani would live 6 months out of the year with her "husband" abimanyu. it is a poor village, which is very evident in the temple's overall state and especially in the lack of opulence in the worship of the deities there. I don't say that critically, but rather in a way that the pujari worships the best way he can. but I digress. so during that visit, I thought to myself that I should do something nice for these beautiful forms of radha and krishna. I was going to be in vraj for a while (it was supposed to be almost three months, but that was cut to 6 weeks...) so I decided I would come back to the temple before I left. when I got back to vrindavana I bought some really nice silk and made plans to go back to javat. my godsister who was living there at the temple arranged a car and to bring a translator. off we went. when we arrived I handed the cloth to the pujari and had the translator explain that I had purchased this nice silk and was going to give him money so he could have some nice clothes made with it for the dieties. the pujari frowned and told me that the silk was not enough to make a whole outfit. I was really despondent. there wouldn't be enough time for me to go back and get more. what could I do? the pujari went back into the darkness and then re-emerged with a bundle of cloth. he explained that he was going to give me some of the deity clothes for a sample and that I should go and have some clothes made. he said he was reluctant to do this because others had promised to do the same thing in the past, and then would never return. I promised that I would be back next year - that I would come back every year. he didn't have to worry, I would be back.
yea, well, krishna had other plans. when I came back from vraj that year stuff happened. a few months later I found myself pregnant. another trip to vrindavana was not in the near future. the clothes got put away...for seven long years.
but I didn't forget about my promise. it was always in the back of my mind. and I would joke that as so many material things got exceedingly worse and more complicated that the brahamana pujari had put a curse on me because I didn't come back. I was coming, I kept telling srimati radharani - I would be back!
and then we made plans. the time was right, and my main focus (yes this was my main focus, so don't make a shopping joke) was getting clothes made and personally delivering them. I realized that because my trip was going to be so short that I should send the clothes ahead of time to get them started. luckily seva priya was going a week before me, so I mailed them to her and she brought them to nanda kisor. I trusted her judgement. I told her to get as many outfits made for a certain amount of money. in the end three outfits, one blue, one yellow, and one maroon, were made. they were simple, but tasteful (I'm so not a fan of crazy sequins). seva priya told my guru maharaj about my plans before I got there and he agreed to take us all there on parikram so I could deliver the clothes. that made it even better.
I have to admit, in my head, I fantasized about this whole elaborate scene of how the pujari would remember me and would be so happy... it even went so far as him giving me a sila off the altar.... now I know, people, that's ridiculous. I wasn't really expecting that to happen, but you know how fantasies go - they get out of hand and are usually not at all realistic. but really, on the drive there I thought about how I didn't even remember what the pujari looked like. my guru even joked about how he was probably dead. we had no translator, so there was no way to even explain the situation. I knew it would be very uneventful. it was.
when we got there we had lots of kirtan. it was really nice. we sat down and maharaj spoke about the significance of the place. then we had more kirtan and maharaj told me I should give the clothes to the pujari. the pujari was super confused. he didn't know what to make of it. we explained a little and he finally figured it out. he invited me back onto the altar (the altar there is also the pujari's bedroom...it's hard to explain, you'd have to really see it) to show me the box where he was going to keep the clothes safe. he was happy, he said thank you, gave us all some maha, and let me take some pictures. that was it. no fireworks, no carrying me around on his shoulders. very simple, very nice.
I'm grateful that srimati radharani finally let me do this service for her. I wanted to do more. I wanted to give them lots of money. I wanted to help them fix their temple. I wanted to stay there. but life is what it is.
afterwards we walked down the same road srimati radharani would walk down to go and cook for krishna. we went to ter kadamba - which is a whole other story in itself.
I couldn't have asked for a better last-day-in-vraj.