By Bhakta Shailend
In Sanskrit it is said âUtsav priya khalu manavaâ, which means, all people love festivals because the celebrations enable them to forget their miseries and enmity and build new bridges of love and friendship.
Spiritual festivals have been around forever in different forms and levels. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, it is described how Mother Yashoda and the inhabitants of Vrndavana would prepare a festival everyday in honour of Krsna and the gopas after their return from the forest.
We also often see in the history of our disciplic successions how dedicated vaisnavas took the responsibilities to commemorate various activities through festivals. These events would last for several days with hundreds and thousands people attending. Perhaps the most common one is the festival of Keturi inaugurated by Srila Narottama das Thakur. One of his major contributions was organizing the inaugural Gaura-purnima festival, the yearly observance of Lord Caitanyaâs appearance,with many important Vaisnavas of the time attending, including Lord Nityanandaâs wife, Jahnava mata. At that historic event, Narottam das Thakur installed six Deities - five Krsna Deities and one pure gold Lord Caitanya Deity.â
Prabhupada himself iniated a number of festivals round the world. Goloka prema dham , Harinama sankirtana, The holy name has descended from Goloka in the form of harinama sankirtana. Such important message should be loudly broadcasted in every corner of this world. Srila Prabhupada asked his disciple to emphasize on big events to reach greater mass. He would also often tell everyone that this Krsna consciousness movement will be written down in history for having saved the world. In this way, Harinam Sankirtan has been introduced under the mission of delivering all fallen soul trapped in the mayhem of this material world.
Nowadays, spiritual festivals carried by ISKCON devotees have mesmerized thousand around the world. Although they are branded under different banners or names, the same mantra is being chanted.âHare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare Hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare.
In England, one of the most successful festivals was inaugurated by Tribhuvannatha Pr some 25 years ago. With a team of dedicated devotees, he hit the ground running at that time. And It didnât take them much to be recognized by the authorities .As a result, they were allocated a space at the Glastonbury music festival. After his departure, his leading man and eternal companion, Giridhari Prabhu (aka Giri) took over this service. Together with Parasuram Prabhu ( aka Para) and team, they feed hundreds of thousands of people every year at the festival. Their service is greatly appreciated by anyone who attends this massive yearly gathering.
After Glastonbury 2010, a long report was published by the Guardian, one of UKâs Leading newspaper, on the success of the festival. Again, the Hare Krsna didnât go unnoticeable. Extract from the newspaper.. â”More gentle, not so commercial, a hippy thing. I came overÂ from Stonehenge that year, and after the festival I stayedÂ here and fasted for 10 days. TheÂ Hare Krishna people blessed the water from the wellÂ for me every day.”
The 2010 South West festivals lasted for about 6 weeks where 5 festivals were held in five different town halls. This year we arranged events at Totnes, Exeter, Plymouth, Glastonbury and Bristol. On an average, we had a hundred turn up at each indoor festival.
Harinams were carried out to advertise the events. Town centre were the main location. We had couple of devotees going out. I remember a week prior to our Plymouth festival, which turned out to be the most successful one; we had this Harinam on a Saturday. It was the âMayor dayâ and there were a lot of activities in town. A live stage show was happening with at least 500 people attending, not taking into account the busy Saturday shoppers. There were only 5 of us. As it was a hot day, people were all over the place enjoying the sun. Just when we were about to make our way in the shops alley, the stage show was coming to an end and we had to cut through the massive crowd on their way back. People were staring at us. You can imagine saffron dhotis, saree and Indian instruments. Some people thought that we were on our way for another live stage performance. Actually we were, but minus the stage. This is the thing, if you become intimidated by the number of people around you or their unusual look, your inner power becomes weak. Itâs just like you find yourself in sleep paralysis. One of the symptoms is, your voice becomes blocked and this leads you to a state of panic. This is where you find devotees getting embarrassed or trying to find a way to hide themselves in the crowd. We must have faith in what we do. Going on harinam is direct war against the material world and it is no fun business unless you enjoy it yourself. This harinam turned to be very successful, we distributed practically all flyers and had about 200 people attending our festival.
Tribhuvannatha Prabhu was on a mission and was empowered by Krsna to reclaim the lost soul. As a neophyte devotee, I feel that this is something I couldnât have started on my own. Therefore by helping out, this gives me the opportunity to be part of this legacy and trace my way back to Godhead.
It will take me forever to describe all the nectarian pastimes we experienced. There has been a team of dedicated soul who tirelessly worked to put together these events and drove them to success. Giridhari prabhu was joined by Ananta Nitai and Ratnavali DD staying full time on the tour. They were joined on and off by devotees cross country.
Being on this tour was a never ending bliss and highly recommended to anyone who wants to taste the nectar of the holy name. We have been to some amazing places and it was an overall 100% success. People couldnât get enough but unfortunately time was limited and we had a small team. Next year we will be expanding our team as the demand is high. Please feel free to join us and help reviving these festivals as it was…. back in the days.
Thank you Tribhuvannatha Prabhu !!!
Youtube harinam link :
Interested in joining in any of our UK or European Festival please call Giridhari Pr :
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Glastonbury 2010 article on Iskconuk performance:
Guardian Article :