This past Saturday, March 3, was Gaura Purnima, when Gaudiya Vaishnavas celebrate the appearance of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in this world. Lord Chaitanya's appearance is a mystery and a manifestation of the greatest grace. His most widely available gift is the congregational chanting of the holy names of God, which is the most efficacious means for spiritual realization in the current age.
I always especially like Gaura Purnima because it was just before that festival in 1970 that I formally joined my spiritual master's mission in Honolulu. So it's a little like a birthday for me in a way.
We see Lord Chaitanya on the right in this picture. On His right is Lord Nityananda (His right-hand man), whose mercy is compared to the soothing effect of the light of millions of moons. Together these two brothers inaugurated the chanting of Hare Krishna about 500 years ago in India.
Devotees everywhere mark this festival with grand celebrations marked by congregational chanting of the holy names of Krishna and of Lord Chaitanya. Here's a picture of one such celebration in San Diego, California in 2002. The young women in the front are our two daughters. Krishnamayi, in the green sari, was recovering from a near-fatal bicycle accident. Lalasamayi, in the blue sari, lovingly nursed her sister back to health. This was Krishnamayi's first public outing after the accident.