BY JEYANTHY PILLAI
Also known as Kartik and falling between the western months of October/November, the month of Damodara celebrates Lord Krishna’s pastime of being bound with ropes by Mother Yashoda, and is often observed by offering ghee lamps.
Padma Purana, an ancient text, assures, “Even a person addicted to all sins and averse to all pious deeds who somehow offers a lamp during Karttika becomes purified. Of this there is no doubt”.
The Skanda Purana, another ancient text, reaffirms,”Please hear the glories of offering a lamp during the month of Karttika, an offering is very pleasing to Lord Kesava. O king of the brahmans, a person who offers a lamp in this way will not take birth again in this world”.
Inspired by this proclamation, Malaysian devotees are hitting the roads, knocking doors and entering into homes and then speaking about the glories of Lord Damodara. Armed with little ghee lamps, and a photo or figurine of baby Damodara and His mother Yasodha, they are spreading mercy of the Lord into thousands and thousands of homes in Malaysia.
The “Damodar Program” started off in the year 2000 when devotees held only twenty-four home services to bring the spiritual blessings of Kartik to their neighbours. But by 2007, a snowball effect had turned twenty-four homes into 3,800, with a total of 70,000 ghee lamps offered.
Program Coordinator Vishnu Caitanya das says, “We’ve always done home visits, but to reach larger numbers we had to come up with new and different methods. So last year we launched the Damodara program in a prominent Kuala Lumpur location, attracting a lot of media attention as well as thousands of members of the public.”
Devotees also came up with innovative and creative ways to increase the number of Damodara home programs. By singing and chanting door to door, or better known as “Deepavali Caroling”, they reached thousands more homes. “We spend ten to fifteen minutes in each home,” Vishnu Caitanya says. “It’s a wonderful way to connect with people.”
Many senior Vaishnavas, sannyasis and GBC members have endorsed Kuala Lumpur’s Damodar Program and have encouraged its adoption in other parts of the world. Several members of the original Malaysian team have visited countries such as India, Fiji, Australia, Mauritius and South Africa to share their years of knowledge and experience.
Will they be able to meet their target of reaching to 5,000 homes and 100,000 individuals this year? We will soon find out by the end of the Damodara month as they bind little Krishna with ropes of love.