ISKCON devotees from Nashville, Tennessee participated in Nashville’s annual Celebration of Cultures for the first time this October 3rd.
The popular multi-cultural festival was established in 1995 by Scarritt-Bennett, a center committed to empowerment through cross-cultural understanding, education, creativity and spiritual renewal.
Scarritt-Bennett saw the need to address Nashville’s increasingly diversified community by helping them understand and appreciate each other’s differences. They did this with Celebration of Cultures, which gave different cultures an avenue to share their traditions through music, dance, activities, food, and crafts.
The festival became an annual event held on the Scarritt-Bennett Center campus, attracting 5,000 people from the surrounding neighborhoods each summer.
In 2006, Celebration of Cultures moved to Centennial Park, where it drew 15,000 people. Each following year, the number of attendees rose.
This year, the event featured forty different cultures and its biggest ever attendance—32,000 people.
ISKCON Nashville, collaborating with ISKCON Atlanta, appeared at the festival under NIOS (North American Institute of Oriental Studies) along with representatives from China, Japan, Mexico, Bolivia, Kurdistan and other cultures.
ISKCON devotees had three booths at the festival, which ran from 10am to 6pm.
At the Global Village section of the festival site, they presented Vedic Village: Cultivation of the Human Spirit. “We had separate tables displaying various themes—music, clothing, simple living and high thinking, vegetarianism, and Vedic literature,” says organizer Gaura Gadadhara Dasa. “Sri Sri Nitai Gaura Chandra, the deities from our Murari Sevaka farm, featured in one of the displays, along with various items for worship.”
At the Food Vending Site, devotees set up their “Higher Taste” food booth. As families ate, children were entertained by a colorful Krishna conscious show from puppet virtuoso Sadhavi Dasi.
At the Global Market, “Govinda's Bazaar” sold a wide range of items such as saris, Vedic themed t-shirts, incense, books and other spiritual items.
ISKCON devotees also took to the Global Village stage, following Dandiya and Bharatnatyam dances with two Hare Krishna chant performances.
Festival attendees next had the chance to be let in on a very special tradition—celebrating the sacred month of Kartik. As the evening fell, devotees led by ISKCON Atlanta president Vedasara Dasa offered candles to the Lord and chanted “Damodar Ashtakam,” a song in praise of Krishna’s childhood form.
“All in all, we felt very pleased with our first participation in the Celebration of Cultures,” says Gaura Gadadhara Dasa. “We feel it was a great way to start the month of Kartik!”
For more information, visit http://celebrationofcultures.com/