The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

ISKCON Youth go on a Winter Adventure

By: on Oct. 24, 2009
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Krishna.com
In Mexico, the group will hold cultural programs at universities and town squares—interspersed with swimming at Agua Azul cascades in the jungle, visiting the ancient Mayan city of Palenque with its pyramids and ruins, and catching some sun at Cancun and Tulum beaches.
This December, while most of us are nursing cups of hot tea and trying to keep warm, a group of intrepid ISKCON youth adventurers will be hitting sunny beaches and exotic locales across Mexico.

But theirs is not just any holiday—it’s the fifth annual Kirtan Yoga Festival Tour. Starting life as a Krishna conscious way for youth to get together in between ISKCON Youth Ministry’s longer summer festival tours, this winter excursion has grown into a powerful outreach tool of its own.

“If you go on the tour you’ll be bringing Krishna’s Holy Name, Prabhupada’s books and sanctified food to fortunate souls at villages and yoga retreats along the way,” says Manu Dasa, who runs the tour with his wife Jaya Radhe and several other volunteers. “And you’ll be doing it in the good company of other youth and young-at-heart adults traveling together on our Garuda tour bus. In fact, many participants make friends for life.”

Compared to the Youth Ministry’s two-and-a-half month summer tour, the Kirtan Yoga winter tour runs for three weeks from December 11 to January 4. And with this year’s new destinations of Belize and Guatemala tagged onto the usual Mexico trek, it will be a dizzying combination of outrageous adventure and Krishna consciousness outreach.

In Mexico, the group will hold cultural programs at universities and town squares—interspersed with swimming at Agua Azul cascades in the jungle, visiting the ancient Mayan city of Palenque with its pyramids and ruins, and catching some sun at Cancun and Tulum beaches.

In Belize, they’ll be holding kirtan programs in Placencia Village and Belize City. Downtime? That’ll be spent visiting Caye Caulker island, snorkelling at Glover’s reef atoll, and swimming at a Caribbean beach.

In Guatemala, the ISKCON youth group and their kirtan skills will be warmly received by various yoga retreats. In between programs, they’ll visit the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, take a natural shower at El Paraiso hot springs waterfall, swim at Lake Atitlan, and hike up a volcano—no, really, a volcano—at sunset.

Doubling back to Mexico for their return trip, the Kirtan Yoga Festival Tour will drive through remote mountain villages, delivering kirtan, spiritual books, and prasadam on their way. Arriving in Mexico City, they’ll visit the ISKCON temple to pay their respects to Sri Sri Radha Madan-Gopal, before concluding the tour in thrilling, inspiring style—with a huge New Year’s eve Harinama in Downtown Mexico.

Indeed, while the high amount of adventure activities on the tour are good, clean fun and a powerful draw for energetic youth, the tour’s focus is devotion and service.

“We organize the festival tour to train, engage, inspire and empower youth in Krishna consciousness to their full potential,” Manu says. “Being on the bus tour means being all you can be.”

Kalindi, an ISKCON youth from Chicago who went on last year’s tour, agrees. “It was amazing,” she says. “What more could you ask for than doing kirtan on beautiful beaches with other sweet devotee youth, eating incredibly delicious prasadam, going sightseeing, and the best part? Spreading Krsna's Holy name and having so much fun simultaneously!”

A second-generation ISKCON devotee himself, organizer Manu started driving from the ISKCON youth reunion in Los Angeles to San Francisco Ratha Yatra back in 1993, with only a camper van and a handful of friends. Today, there are two annual tours, and the summer one—which draws up to sixty youth every year and covers up to 18,000 miles—has youth organizing twenty of their own cultural theater shows, and helping to set up nine Ratha Yatras.

“I truly feel this is one of the most important projects ISKCON has to offer,” said Purusartha Dasa of Alachua, Florida, one of the young-at-heart senior devotees who accompanied youth on the tour. “It’s totally ecstatic and significant in its preaching value, and gives our youth (and those not so young) opportunities not to be found elsewhere.”

To apply for a place on the Kirtan Yoga Festival tour, email: bustour2009@krishna.com The full tour costs US $690 per person, or US $490 for only the second two weeks. Optional adventure activities cost extra.

To volunteer, contribute towards a new tour bus, or sponsor talented devotees, Bhagavad-gitas for distribution, or groceries for prasadam distribution, visit http://www.krishna.com/bustour.
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