Let’s start right at the beginning when the temple had a fresh new layer of paint. The first few years started off with the traditional vavtas, which were always hung up on temple events. Then our seniors had created a massive sculptural Himalayas scene, made from mesh and dust sheets. It was so mind blowing, that even after a decade people still talk about the grand scale of it.
We as the youth were inspired by their creativity, and have since strived to create something bigger and better each year with all sorts of different media ranging from colourful draped fabrics, paper mache, foam and loads of twinkling lights.
Our ideas have got bigger and crazier, you’d think our budgets would be sky high by now right? But they haven’t been. We’ve learnt to make use of materials, as well as making the most of old fabrics and reusing them in as many different ways as possible. Recycle, reduce, reuse, thats our motto!
Our favourite by far has to be Diwali 2007. The year of the popcorn, the paper mache limbdo tree and the 7ft 3D charanavinds outside.
The work began seven weeks prior to Diwali. We had a massive team during weekend sabhas, whereby haribhaktos would be threading away and listen to katha. In total, we managed to make approximately 2,000 metres of stringed popcorn, if not more! At times we do forget just how big our temple actually is and everything has to be done at a grand scale. We created a rich draped canopy coming out from the centre of each sabha hall, finished off with two grand popcorn chandeliers.
The reaction we received from it all was so overwhelming, as everyone, especially the elders, were taken aback by it. Soon after the popcorn scent started to move its way around every corner of the sabha hall, we knew it was time for it all to come down - over 7 weeks of preparation taken down within 2 hours. As much as it was heart breaking for us to watch, it looked just as beautiful when it all came down, like ivory curtains draped to the floor.
Another favourite of ours has to be Patotsav 2011. The year of the grand charanavinds, placed in the centre of each sabha. Shreeharidasji Swami stood beneath them, breathtaken and said “Maharaj khubaj raaji thya chhe.” With such heart-warming blessings like that, it's always motivating for us to deliver bigger and better designs for Maharaj's home.
Amongst us there is a team of designers who collate ideas and have a final vision. However, that final vision would not be achieved if we did not have the support of everyone at mandir. Firstly, the Pujari’s - not only do they stay up late just so we can continue working for a bit longer, but occasionally they make us delicious snacks and lovely milkshakes.
The maintenance and lighting team play a vital role in the design process too. They not only provide us with technical advice regarding suitable materials and the practicality of our designs, but also help our sketched ideas come to life.
We then have all the baas, bapas, aunties and uncles who always ask, “Amara jevu kai kaam chhe? Hoi, toh karaviye.” We can always count on them to help carry out all those labour intensive tasks.
Finally, last but not least, all our yuvaks and yuvikas, awaiting to be given tasks or just there to provide entertainment for everyone else. Whatever seva they have been given, big or small, they deliver only their best. Along the way, we have recognised talents, achievements and aspirations within academy that we would not have found without them getting involved.
We would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts.
We have had our fair share of mishaps which we still laugh about even today, from wrongly measured material to last minute changes whereby we feel something just does not look great in that particular place; a little nudge to the left, lifted up about 2cm. Every little detail counts, right?
Despite all these things, it is a given that everyone will always come together and help nurture a sense of community and oneness, with Maharaj in their minds. After all, this is all being done for Him and this has no doubt been the biggest reward of all.
There is always something to get your hands into when it comes to decorating our temple, help is always needed, be it for the whole duration or a few days here and there, every bit of seva counts. If you’d like to give a helping hand and join in with the pre-festivities, please feel free to come over and get stuck in. The more the merrier.
- Most expensive - crystals (Diwali 2008)
- Most affordable - popcorn (Diwali 2007)
- Most time consuming - jambu tree (Patotsav 2008)
- Most fun - paper mache lanterns (Patotsav 2010)
- Most detailed - the charanavinds (Patotsav and Diwali 2011)
- Most last minute - colourful cubes (Diwali 2012)
- Most quickest - gradient organza (Diwali 2010)
- Most help received - popcorn (Diwali 2007)
- Over 2,000 meters of popcorn was stringed.
- 220 paper mache lanterns
- Over 1,800 coloured handmade cubes.
- 1,970 meters of fabrics