One of the most demanding tasks during the last few weeks was to vacate our location at Van Hilligaertstraat. The building turned into an ocean of boxes and other things to move. We planned to move on Saturday 29 August, Balarāma’s Appearance Day, for we could really use His mercy. And the mercy was definitely there. The preceding Friday, on the eve of the auspicious day, I sent an email to some of our volunteers for help with the removal.
I could not believe my eyes when I arrived at the temple in a van driven by my brother Lando: twelve wonderful prabhus, headed by Ikṣvāku, were waiting in front of the building. All by the mercy of Śrī Balarāma. The volunteers worked extremely hard, from noon through to 6 pm, until everything except some really heavy kitchen stuff had been transported to the Lizzy Ansinghstraat. Once done, all of us enjoyed some delicious prasādam cooked by Jagabandhu prabhu. In spite of working hard, our enthusiasm remained till the very end. Some days later, the student-moving organization took on the last heavy pieces, leaving behind a rather desolate-looking empty building at Van Hilligaertstraat.
And indeed, after moving out of Van Hilligaertstreet, Lizzy Ansinghstraat became a complete mess. Since the new place has limited space, Ikṣvāku started to sort out the things that could be taken to the storage. So again in the van, again driven by Lando, we moved a lot of things to a storage in Amsterdam Zuid last Wednesday. This time with the assistance of six wonderful prabhus headed by Ikṣvāku prabhu as usual. And again the Lord was merciful to us as we were all pleasantly surprised by some wonderful prasādam cooked by Mukunda Gopāl and Raṅgadevī. We are now really making progress in the new building: all lighting has been installed by our professional electrician Ikṣvāku.
This weekend the last, but not the least demanding job will have to be completed, i.e. installing the kitchen under Uddhava’s supervision with the assistance of Mukunda Gopāl, Marcel and Ikṣvāku. Yesterday, we reached another major milestone: the altar, including a new base platform, was reconstructed by Jay Govinda prabhu and his cousin Sunil (a professional altar builder), and my youngest daughter Aarti. They worked until 10 o’clock in the evening accompanied by nice kīrtan and guided by Śrīla Prabhupāda, whose picture on the vyāsāsana was following our every move. Unfortunately we had to rent a car again to transport the wooden boards for the base platform – well, that’s all in the game. Last Friday, the final step in the formalities was undertaken: a representative of the local authorities in charge of the building’s fire safety inspected the building, and was satisfied with the overall safety. The next inspection will be in 2 years’ time.
A program for outsiders, such as neighbors, politicians, local authorities, journalists and so on will take place on Saturday from 1:45 – 6:00.
This day is mainly meant .
The opening Sunday Feast on the day after, 20 September, is mainly intended for the devotees and will last from 2:30 – 8:00 pm. You can find the program for both days here: Program Temple Opening.
This weekend the bulk of the job will have been completed, which means next week we will preparing for the opening. Tomorrow, the focus will be on installing the kitchen. Additionally, the altar needs to be painted, which still requires an few extra experienced painters. Next week, we’ll need cleaners for the entire building. We also need plenty of helping hands for decorating the altar and temple room, putting up balloons at the entrance, cutting vegetables, serving prasadam and cleaning after the feasts on both 19 and 20 September, and so on. This is the opportunity to engage yourself once more in the sweet service of Śrī Guru and Śrī Gaurāṅga. So if you would like to help out, please do contact me (mail: Gisela.firstname.lastname@example.org, tel +31(0)616287239.)
As a general fact, moving can be quite costly. But for an organization like Iskcon, being sustained by donations, it is well-nigh killing. We reached the end of our removal budget over a month ago, and there’s still quite a few things to be done and bills to be paid. The main expenses involved the transformation from shell-only building to a location with bathroom and shower, and with a professional kitchen ready to cook for over a hundred mouths. The need for extended ventilation, additional waste pipes, sufficient warm water supply (much more than the building could provide in its previous state), etc. only emerged during the construction phase and introduced more or less unforeseen expenses. We even received a €7500 bill for the extra piping and plumbing required to make the building suitable for festivals involving large gatherings – such as our Sunday Feasts.
Fortunately, I was able to convince the manager of the relevant municipal services on legal grounds that their service was responsible for the costs of adapting the warm-water installation. But this still leaves us with a €3500 debt to pay off. And then there’s the supplies we still need to purchase, such as bhoga, decoration materials, altar restoration expenses, etc. We would therefore warmly welcome your kind contributions.
I approached the therapists with whom we share the building with a leaflet of who we are and what our activities are, yet we may still be faced with complaints about our behavior or noise levels by them or nearby residents. I already informed the police about our festivals and potentially high noise levels, but that said, we should all pull together and do our utmost to try and avoid causing complaints. Let’s be kind to our neighbors and exemplary in our behavior. This will not only keep the people around us happy, it will also reflect the behavior of our personal example Śrīla Prabhupāda, who remained a gentleman in all circumstances. He set the example for us to follow, so let’s try to please him!
Gītā Govinda devi dasi
(New Building Officer & Fundraiser)
Heading picture: Darshan of the Deities of Amsterdam in the house of head- pujari Mukti Dhātrī devī dāsī. The photo is taken on Sri Balarāma Jayantī. Lord Balarāma's name in Amsterdam is Śrī Karuṇā Nitāi. He is standing at the right hand of Śrī Gauracandra (Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu)