for ISKCON News on Jan. 28, 2011
The recent Australian Kulimela was a great success. Attended by up to 300 devotees and well wishers from around Australia and across the world, many are still swooning over their memories of the association, the kirtan and the prasadam.
The Kulimela was hosted by New Govardhana Dham, a farm at Eungella near Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales. The festival ran over two weeks from the 27th of December 2010 to the 9th of January, 2011.
The first week of the celebration was designed to allow participants to recover from jet lag, get to know each other and experience the Australian environment.
Bus tours took everyone to refreshing rockpools and waterfalls for swimming and to explore the region's beautiful rainforests and walking tracks. On new year's eve devotees travelled to the Gold Coast, a popular tourist destination, for Harinam and prasadam distribution. The afternoons and evenings rang to the sounds of bhajans and kirtan in the temple and bhajan kutir.
Week two was also filled with kirtan, prasadam and the added ingredients of seminars and concerts. The second week was capped by the Kulifest, a festival of photography, art, fashion, martial arts and yoga presented by second generation devotees. The final event was a Ratha Yatra from the bridge near the farm entrance up to the temple.
Devotees and well wishers at the Kulimela were treated to seminars on business planning, forgiveness, yoga, reframing, healing, ayurveda, self defence, cow protection and more. Seminars were presented by Asesha Devi Dasi, Gitanjali Devi Dasi, Taraka Devi Dasi, Vaiyasaki Dasa, Damodara Dasa, Lila Kirtan Devi Dasi, Shabaz and other talented devotees.
“The idea of a Kulimela in Australia was initially floated by Kalindi Bindi,” said Advaita Myler, one of the Australian Kulimela organizers. “She knew that we needed something like this for our youth.”
“I was fortunate enough to attend the Kulimela in Radhadesh a few years ago,” Advaita said. “That event inspired me so much that I signed up straight away to help Kalindi pull it off over here.”
“Initially it was Kalindi and myself trying to plan the whole thing,” Advaita says. “Once we had settled on New Govardhana as the venue it was a challenge as neither of us lived there on the farm. Shyamasundari stepped up wanting to get involved and she got a bunch of the local youth enthused by the idea and from that Nitai Christian Durr signed up to be the local co-ordinator. By the time it kicked off we had about seven main organizers.
Advice and assistance was available from the Kulimela Association which gave valuable support behind the scenes in the lead up to the event. The association is comprised of people who have organized previous Melas, with a core group from the States who have a lot of experience having organized a few of these festivals.
The festival was host to many wonderful musicians such as Gaura Vani and As Kindred Spirits, Azitiz and the Ghost Brothers from the USA and Canada. Local acts inspired and uplifted everyone including Sri Prahlada, Gitanjali Devi Dasi, Dovetales, Haribhakti Dey and Cupids Bullet.
“The main message of the festival was for everyone, especially the youth, to unite, reconnect and to inspire one another both materially and spiritually,” said Nitai. “Everyone should strive to move forward in life regardless of what level of Krishna Conciousness they are at,” he says.
“People I meet are still commenting on the Kulimela,” Nitai says. “Some are saying it was the best devotional festival they have been to, some say they will remember it for life and they are looking forward to the next one.”
During the Kulimela the rain poured almost every evening which, after the festival, led to flooding in the region. Even this could not take away from the immense benefit of associating with so many devotees of Lord Krishna.
The Australian Kulimela organizers are planning smaller scale gatherings all over Australia throughout the year and are hoping to arrange another big event on an annual basis.
Rumour also has it that New Zealand devotees may be planning a Kulimela of their own.