Festival of India 2009: “Breathtaking!” “I’m speechless! Such a beautiful festival!”

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by Amrita Gopal Dasi

    “I’m speechless! Such a beautiful festival!”

    These are a sample of the comments recorded in the guestbook signed by hundreds of visitors to the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. The Rajastani-style center—the only one of its kind in the state—held the annual Festival of India celebration on Saturday, September 12th. Welcoming a crowd of over three thousand, Caru dasa and Vaibhavi Devi Dasi (both disciples of Srila Prabhupada) along with one hundred local volunteers manifested the spirit of India: serve the people loads of prasadam, crank up the krsna-kirtana and encourage cheers and claps when Ravana’s giant body is scorched to bits by flaming arrows.

    Situated in a gorgeous valley surrounded on all sides by picturesque mountains, the Krishna Temple is well-known as the “place to be” throughout the year, mainly because of the various festivals that are held here. This year’s Festival of India attracted all types: energetic college students, families spanning two or three generations, and many curious and open-minded Mormons. Utah has a strong link with the Mormon Church, and their theology and lifestyle shares some important elements with Krishna consciousness. Preaching was brisk and joyful, as the festival participants were eager to learn more about the cultural and spiritual origins of the festival. Distributing Bhagavad-gita to many of the philosophically-inclined visitors was easy, since the Mormons appreciate authoritative literature.

    And what to speak of the chanting! Kesava-Acarya dasa, a renowned kirtaneer from New York, along with Sri Ram on mrdanga sweetly sang the Lord’s Holy Name to the backdrop of a brilliantly setting sun. Later on in the evening a group of local devotees got everybody dancing to rock-style kirtana. Inside the temple room different groups of chanters led the packed crowds in non-stop harinama. “I thought the roof was going to cave in at one point because of all the dancing,” said Vaibhavi Devi Dasi. In addition to the all-auspicious chanting, young dancers from Abhinaya Company in San Jose, California, charmed the crowd with several styles of traditional dance. On the main stage devotees performed scenes from the Ramayana. Plus rows of booths offering such services as henna and Indian dress created an otherworldly atmosphere enjoyed by all.

    The festival’s finale was especially spectacular: a 20-foot effigy of Ravana disintegrated into fiery shards before the delighted crowd. A glittery fireworks display capped off the evening.

    Mercy and fun were the words of the day…all for $3 a head!

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Post Date: Thursday, September 17th, 2009
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