For the past seven years, Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji Mandir in Dallas has rung in the new year with an epic multi-hour community kirtan organized by second-generation devotees.
From twelve hours in its first year, it has grown to twenty-four hours, and even featured a thirty-six-hour marathon for its fifth anniversary.
This New Year’s Eve, the community is going above and beyond with fifty hours of kirtan in celebration of both the 50th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in the US in 2015, and the 50th anniversary of ISKCON’s incorporation in 2016.
The festival will begin with the usual 24-hour kirtan from midnight on December 30th to midnight on December 31st, New Year’s Eve. Then, from January 1st to 3rd – Friday to Sunday – there will be eight to ten hours of kirtan a day to make up the full fifty hours.
Two to three hundred people, including devotees from Texas and surrounding Southern states, as well as local yoga practitioners and members of the public, are expected for the festival, with numbers expected to spike to hundreds more on New Year’s Eve.
Devotees calling out the name of the Lord at Dallas 24-hour kirtan in 2014
“It has become almost like Janmastami in terms of popularity,” says organizer Haridas Chan, a second-generation devotee and Vrindavana Gurukula alumni. Haridas works as a graphic designer by day and does what he can for the community in his spare time, along with friend Rupa Tansey, who started the New Year’s Eve annual kirtan.
Chanters will include well-known kirtaniyas like B.B. Govinda Swami, Madhava, Amala Harinama and his wife Nadiya Mani, Amala Kirtan, and Krishna Kishore of the Mayapuris.
But this kirtan fosters a community mood where everyone feels part of it, and so the chanting will also be spread out amongst a whole host of devotees from different generations, and from nearby and international locales.
There’ll be Saci-Suta Das from the 24-Hour Kirtan in Vrindavana, India, Sarvatma Das from California, Pandava-Sena member Ram Das and Nila Madhava (Anish) from Houston, Sugosh Das from New Talavana, Mississippi, and local TKG Academy teachers Kalindi and Gopi-Gita.
“We’ll also have slots for all the children to sing, including the little kids,” says Haridas. “Everyone is involved. It’s really become something that our whole community looks forward to.”
The festival is also adding an interesting feature not included in many kirtan events. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday after breakfast, there will be seminars from Madhava on the Art of Kirtan, from Jagannath Cassidy (son of musician Mangalananda) on stories from the Mahabharata, and a practical flute workshop with Krishna Kishore.
Radha-Kalachandji will be showered with tens of thousands of roses
Mexico GBC Guru Prasad Swami will also visit and give a seminar or morning classes.
One of the most exciting prospects about the festival, however, is its flower abhisekha of Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji, which will start around 11:30am on Saturday.
Having the abhisekha during the New Year Kirtan Festival will give visitors from neighboring states and beyond the chance to witness this stunning Dallas Radhastami staple, which will see the Deities bathed in a continuous shower of rose petals for half an hour.
“Then after the arati, we throw all the rose petals out into the crowd, and people just kind of have a good time with them,” laughs Hari. “We’ll be using tens of thousands of roses.”
Early bird registration for the festival, which includes four days of prasadam meals catered by Kalachandji’s restaurant, is available for just $25 until November 15th. Vegan options will be available. For $150, guests are completely taken care of, including airport pick up and drop-off, accommodation for three nights at a nearby hotel, transportation to the temple from your hotel and back, and prasadam.
“This festival has two aims,” says Hari. “Firstly, the Sadhu Sanga festival used to be held in Texas before it moved to North Carolina, so we want to bring a bit of that experience and mood back to Texas for local devotees.”
“Secondly, we wanted to do a kirtan that was bigger than anything we had done before for the 50th anniversary of ISKCON. So we’ve put together 50 hours for the 50th. It’s a showcase for ISKCON in general and Dallas in particular, and it’s also outreach to the local kirtan and yoga communities as well as the general public.”
To register and for more info, please visit http://www.kirtan50.com/
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