Around 300 youth aged 15 to 35 from all over Europe are expected to attend Youth Mela in Leicester, UK from September 1st to 4th this year.
The convention, organized by the Pandava Sena and ISKCON Europe Youth Ministry, aims to empower youth throughout ISKCON Europe and connect them with Srila Prabhupada.
“The event is inspired by the International Leadership Sanga in Mayapur, and Kulimela worldwide,” says Kumari Kunti Dasi, who is coordinating with her husband Visvambhara Caitanya Das. “So we’re hoping to have a flavor of both.”
“We really believe that the greatest input our generation can offer ISKCON is cooperation -- cooperation in the effort to please Srila Prabhupada and his mission. Empowering the youth to find their place and service is a missing piece to our movement.”
“Youth Mela,” she adds, “Is a small attempt to unite youth from all over Europe to find strength, inspiration, friendship and service individually and with each other.”
ISKCON youth hear about Krishna consciousness at an event by Youth Mela co-organizers Pandava Sena
The event, part of the UK’s ISKCON 50 celebrations, will be held in the Leicester temple, a spacious, historic building in the city center with cathedral-like ceilings and beautiful stained-glass windows. With youth-friendly management and active local youth, it’s the ideal location.
Every morning of the Mela, senior devotees including Kadamba Kanana Swami, Krishna Ksetra Swami, and Kripamoya Das will give a motivational lecture. These will be on the convention’s themes of youth empowerment, service, and connection to Srila Prabhupada.
A variety of seminars and workshops, also on similar themes, will take place throughout the day.
There will be a panel on Saturday with local Prabhupada disciples like Sarva Mangala Dasi and Kripamoya Das, who will share how they were empowered by Srila Prabhupada when they joined as young people. “We hope it will inspire the youth to find their own service for Prabhupada, especially during ISKCON’s 50th,” says Kumari.
As well as the panel, Jahnavi Harrison and Ravi Pattni of Kirtan London will speak on how to launch and run your own kirtan outreach program successfully.
The Kuli Mela Association’s Kapila Monet will talk about which youth initiatives are out there, and how to get involved or start your own project.
UK Youth Mela to Empower ISKCON Youth in Europe
Motivational speaker Ghanashyam Das will give a workshop on how to reach out to modern audiences with Krishna consciousness.
Bhuta Bhavana Das, a mentor and disciple of Bhakti-Tirtha Swami, will help youth understand their natures and learn how to use them in Krishna’s service.
Some will share projects close to their hearts. Ravi Talsania of the Pandava Sena is currently meeting with Srila Prabhupada disciples and filming them telling their stories – so he’ll talk about how the experience changed him and give some filmmaking tips and tricks.
Visvambhara Caitanya will present his smartphone app and website Srila Prabhupada Timeline, and enlist any youth who want to get involved.
And a new ISKCON Youth Ministry website will be unveiled. “It will be for connecting and networking, sharing resources and projects, and finding youth association,” says Kumari. “There isn’t any website right now where people can go and say, ‘Hey, I feel inspired to do a kirtan project at my temple, and I’d like to connect with others who put on similar events in the past.”
There will also be an informational seminar on veganism and non-violence, a hot topic amongst ISKCON youth; and various practical workshops on dance, yoga, and art.
Meanwhile there will be a 12-hour kirtan from 7pm to 7am on the second-to-last day of the Mela, utilizing youth’s penchant for kirtan through the night. Chanters will include Jahnavi Harrison and Radha Londonisvara Das from the UK; Deva, who runs the 24-Hour Kirtan festival in New Vrajamandala, Spain; Manu, who runs the Radhadesh Mellows kirtan festival in Belgium; and of course the Swamis and senior devotees in attendance.
There will also be an entertainment evening featuring the Bhaktivedanta Players, Jahnavi Harrison, and artists from ISKCON London’s own record label Radha Krishna Records, such as Ananda Monet of “Inevitable Time” fame and reggae artist Hari Kirtan.
Finally, there will be a special marketplace where only devotee youth entrepreneurs will sell their wares, including Sundari Jewelry, Sita Bell clothing, and different vendors of art and vegan organic gourmet food. ISKCON 50 merchandise like hoodies and notebooks will also be on sale.
“We started this project with the intention of uniting the youth of Europe in a joint effort, as well as to give them new opportunities for sanga and inspiration,” Kumari says. “If we can get even a portion of attendees to go back to their home temples and communities and take up a more involved service -- especially one that they are excited about -- we will feel that our efforts have been successful.”
To register and find out more information, please visit www.youthmela.org[ leicester ] [ youth ] [ UK ] [ Pandava Sena ] [ Europe ] [ youth bus tour ]