ISKCON New Vrindaban has started its festival season, which runs from May to September, and draws pilgrims, gives inspiration and association to visiting devotees, helps to maintain the temple, and provides engagement and financial support for devotee staff.
During the pandemic, New Vrindaban, with its 2,200 acres, spacious temple room and strict following of Covid protocols, has been a popular destination for devotees looking to safely experience the deity darshan and temple programs they’ve been missing.
Now, as Covid cases in the U.S. fall to at a seven-day average of below 15,000 new daily cases, and vaccinations rise to 61% of the eligible population, states across the country are easing restrictions. One of these, New Vrindaban’s home state of West Virginia, is set to end its indoor mask mandate next weekend.
This will be just in time for ISKCON New Vrindaban’s first major festival of the season, the rebranded 24 Hour Kirtan, which will take place on the weekend of June 19th to 20th.
This time the well-known event will be dubbed the “24 PLUS Hour Kirtan.” Kicking off with an Adivas ceremony at Srila Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold on Friday night, the main event will run from 11:00am on Saturday to 9:00pm on Sunday, featuring 34 hours of continuous kirtan.
“During past 24 Hour Kirtans, we’ve lost about six hours of kirtan, because not everyone can stay up through the night, so they don’t get the benefit of the full 24 hours,” says communications director Anuradha Dasi. “This year, we’re encouraging devotees to plan their days so that they can take ten hours to sleep etc, and still participate in 24 hours of kirtan. There will also be a Harinama Katha class instead of the regular Bhagavatam class on Saturday and Sunday mornings, by Rama Raya Prabhu of the New York Harinama Ashrama, as well as by a second generation devotee.”
With West Virginia lifting its indoor mask mandate, the kirtan will take place in the spacious temple room in front of Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra. However those who are not vaccinated are requested to take precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing, and signs will be put up recommending the same.
“We will also have large screens and speakers outside on the grassy areas between the temple and the restaurant, so that devotees can sit outdoors to enjoy the kirtan,” says Anuradha.
“We are hoping that the pandemic has re-emphasized the concept of personal responsibility to the devotees; not only for their spiritual advancement, but also for their physical well being,” she adds. “So we’re emphasizing personal responsibility, to wear your masks, and enjoy the kirtan outside if you’re not vaccinated.”
Throughout the weekend, breakfast, lunch, and a light late dinner will be served for all; while a sumptuous buffet, tasty fun-foods, freshly made juices and prasadam bubble teas will be available for purchase at Govinda’s restaurant.
Looking a month ahead, ISKCON New Vrindaban has also received permission to hold Ratha Yatra in nearby downtown Wheeling, on Saturday July 17th. Dubbed “Chariot Street Fest,” the event will see the familiar red, yellow, blue and green tents of Festival of India with their various exhibits set up at the beautiful Heritage Port Park on the waterfront. The one-and-a-half-hour parade will start from Heritage Port and go through the main streets of the City. Meanwhile the festival on the waterfront will feature nonstop kirtan from 2pm to 8pm, as well as prasadam distribution, which will be done in a safe and sanitary way with servers in masks and gloves. As with the 24 Hour Kirtan, there will also be signs encouraging personal responsibility regarding Covid health practices.
“The theme behind Ratha Yatra will be ‘culturally many, spiritually one,’” Anuradha says. “We’re going to invite other churches and temples to offer some kind of presentation such as a song, chant or puja, with the idea that the pandemic can bring us together not only in suffering but also in prayer.”
The next day, Sunday July 18th, will also see a festival at ISKCON New Vrindaban in honor of the 50th anniversary of the community’s Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra deities.
Later in the season, on September 18th, Festival of Colors is also expected to take place on the grounds at Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold, the Covid situation pending. Featuring color throws, spiritual music and prasadam, the festival has been a mainstay at New Vrindaban since 2012 and has nurtured friendships with the local community.
Throughout the season, starting on June 27th, will be the Sunday Rose Garden Brunches, where from 10:00 to 11:30am guests will be able to tuck into a delicious fusion menu of continental breakfast items along with Indian street foods. Seating is outdoors in the beautiful Prabhupada’s Palace Rose Garden amidst 100 varieties of roses.
“With the State of West Virginia opening up, it behooves us to also open up to give people an outlet that is spiritually nurturing for them,” Anuradha says. “We still plan to do whatever is in our control to exercise precautions, as we follow in the footsteps of what’s happening in our state.”
Visiting New Vrindaban during the summer season, according to Anuradha, gives pilgrims a sense of friendship and upliftment.
“We’re seeing that people are valuing more human connection,” she says. “And pairing that human connection with kirtan and prasadam? It’s a winning combination.”
New Vrindaban would love to include you in their summer festivals. Take advantage of an amazing opportunity and offer service in exchange for free accommodation, prasadam, access to all the fabulous festivals, and a peaceful experience on 2,200 beautiful acres amidst cows, peacocks, and organic vegetable gardens. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Book accommodations for the 24+ Hour Kirtan here: https://www.palacelodge.com/accomodation
Onsite accommodation will fill up quickly. If you cannot find accommodation, send an email to email@example.com to register and pay for camping facilities. Or, as soon as bookings close, we will send you names of hotels to book into with 24+ Hour Kirtan Discount.[ 24-hour-kirtan ] [ festival-of-colors ] [ "new vrindaban ] [ rathayatra ]