Festival-goers chant the Maha Mantra.
Hundreds of devotees from across the world packed into ISKCON’s New Vrindaban temple in West Virginia this past Mother's Day weekend for a mega devotional chanting session, or “Maha Nama-Yajna.”
Attendees meditated on prayers read by poet Dravida Dasa and gave their voices to a tumultous rendition of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, led by gurus Sacinandana Swami and Radhanath Swami. The event, which culiminated in an astonishing display of dance, as waves of devotees spread out across the temple floor, was just one of many at the community’s annual “Festival of Inspiration.” Now in its eighth year, the Festival has become a highlight of the ISKCON year, attracting a large and diverse international crowd.
This year's Festival, subtitled "A Spring Experience in Appalachia," brought the event to a new level. Seven hundred people participated in a series of workshops, programs, and ceremonies led by a roster of special guests including swamis and other dignitaries. These included presentations on "The Healing Power of Prasadam" by local residents Soma Dasa and Kripa-Maya Dasa, how to "Catch the Fever of Book Distribution" by Vaisesika Dasa, and “The Yoga of Comedy” with Yadunath Dasa and Bhaktin Beth.
As always, the Main Tent drew crowds with its array of creative devotional entertainment. Musical artists Atmarama Dasa and Devananda Pandit captivated audiences, while Yadhunath and Friends brought down the house with their now famous comedy skits, introducing a brand new superhero named "Japa Man."
Fresh from his latest walk across Canada, Bhakti-Marg Swami presented another of his well-received dramatic productions on the activities of Vamana, an avatar of Krishna. The cast of young actors from Detroit and Toronto delivered an excellent modern production of dance, philosophy, and resounding spiritual emotion.
The backbone of the Festival, however, had to be the volunteer crew, including many enthusiastic youth from Alachua, Florida, who assisted with practical aspects such as set-up, security, lighting, and food distribution.
Festival organizer Malati Dasi said, “The festival wouldn’t exist without those who step forward to assist in so many areas. I’m also indebted to all the presenters who serve by voluntarily traveling to New Vrindaban to share their deep realizations and abilities with all of us. Service is the real profit of Festival of Inspiration – everything else is secondary. It’s the joy and inspiration of serving the devotees that keeps me organizing this festival each year.”
For more information on the Festival of Inspiration, visit www.festivalofinspiration.org