Citizens of Buenos Aires, Argentina had their day brightened up when the “Harinama Party Bus” rolled through town on Saturday October 27th.
The idea has been a long time coming and finally became a reality last month. It is the brainchild of husband and wife Prema Rupa Madhava Das and Prema Rupini Madhavi Dasi, who were born in the same year, share the same zodiac sign and were called Paul and Paula before becoming devotees.
The two are also soulmates when it comes to service – they are on the Buenos Aires temple board together, and run the Food For Life program and weekly Harinamas.
For their Harinama Party Bus event they rented two large schoolbuses and decorated them with flags that read “Chant Hare Krishna and Be Happy.”
115 devotees from the congregation, including brahmacharis, young families, and senior devotees first all took lunch prasadam together and were given rubber band bracelets reading “Hare Krishna” and “Harinama Party Bus.”
The whole team in front of the Harinama Party Bus
“Our idea was to share Harinama Sankirtana, prasadam distribution and book distribution with all the devotees of the yatra,” Prema Rupa Madhava says.
From 1pm to 7:30pm, the Harinama Party Buses then drove to various spots in the city, with everyone chanting nonstop onboard along the way.
Stops included Parque Centenario, a popular weekend destination; Rosedal de Palermo, one of the main tourist attractions of the city where people visit the famous rose gardens, picnic, bicycle, and walk; Palermo Soho, a busy pedestrian area with shops, restaurants, bars and plazas; and Parque Los Andes, where handcraft and antique fairs are held.
At each place, devotees would do about an hour of chanting and dancing, give out prasadam cookies, sweetballs and popcorn, and distribute Prabhupada’s books.
The group made their way through the parks and plazas in processions of two by two, led by the ladies dressed in beautiful saris with gopi dots, dancing elaborately. In the center of the party devotees held up columns of multicolored balloons, while brahmacharis from the Harinama Ruci traveling sankirtan party and others led melodious and jubilant kirtan from a clear sound system.
Chanting in a local park
“Because of the balloons, people could see us from a long way away,” Prema Rupa Madhava says. “The sight of us made people happy, and many joined us for some meters, chanting and dancing along.”
In places were bars and restaurants opened out onto plazas with people eating and drinking outside, devotees wound their way through, chanting and dancing with the waiters and diners.
“It was lots of fun, people liked it so much,” Prema says.
By the end of the day, devotees had distributed 500 books and even more pieces of prasadam. As it was the sacred month of kartik, they also had many passersby offer ghee lamps to a large picture of Mother Yashoda and Lord Damodara they carried with them.
In the evening, the devotees returned to the ISKCON temple in Buenos Aires and took dinner prasadam together. As they said goodbye, organizers gave out t-shirts with a picture of the Harinama Party Bus on it for everyone to take home with them.
Happy customers receive Srila Prabhupada's books
The program was so popular that it has already started to spread. “The devotees in Santiago de Chile heard about what we did and replicated the event there two weeks later,” Prema Rupa Madhava says. “My wife and I went as participants, and it was fantastic!”
For their part, “The Premas” plan to repeat the Harinama Party Bus at least once a year from now on.
“With this I think we can show people in general a little of what Krishna consciousness is,” Prema Rupa Madhava says. “How to live a simple life, be more happy, and develop a higher consciousness.”
The Party Bus is also a great way to bond the devotee community.
“Everyone was in a service mood, asking if we needed help in organizing, carrying things, decorating the buses, or cooking,” says Prema. “They gave donations for renting the buses. There was a very nice atmosphere of love and friendship. And all the comments were wonderful – many said that it was one of the best experiences they had ever had in Krishna consciousness.”
Devotees asked people to offer a candle to a large picture of Yasoda Damodara as it was Kartik[ aires ] [ argentina ] [ buenos ] [ harinam ] [ sankirtan ]