Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Congresswoman from Hawaii, took a break from politics to lead kirtan at the ISKCON Rathayatra festival in New York on June 8th.
Gabbard is currently campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020. She has recently been named by the Democratic National Committee as one of the twenty presidential candidates to participate in the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign, which will take place in Miami on June 26thand 27th.
Tulsi Gabbard took time out of her busy schedule of events in New York to visit the main kirtan tent at the Rathayatra’s post-parade festival in Washington Square Park.
After being welcomed by Radhanath Swami, she listened to his speech and then ascended the stage.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard listens to Radhanath Swami’s speech at New York Rathayatra – photo by Hari Kirtan Kaufmann
“Jaya Lord Jagannath! All glories to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada!” she said, addressing the crowd of about three hundred. “I’m so grateful to be here with all of you today to celebrate Rathayatra. It’s so nice for me to be able to set politics aside just for a few minutes, and to be able to rest my mind and my heart in the most wonderful names of God, and His unconditional love for all of us.”
She then lead kirtan, chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, for about fifteen minutes, accompanied by her husband Abraham Williams on acoustic guitar and ISKCON devotees on traditional instruments.
Beginning slowly and meditatively, the kirtan built to a peak during which Tulsi Gabbard, Radhanath Swami in the audience, and all the gathered devotees and festivalgoers danced joyfully.
Gabbard also fanned Lord Jagannath with a peacock feather fan during her visit.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard speaks at New York Rathayatra – Photo by Dipika Ray
Rep. Gabbard has described herself as a “Vaishnava Hindu” and was the first Congresswoman to swear in to office using the Bhagavad-gita.
“I follow the Gaudiya Vaishnava branch of Hinduism,” she said during a CNN Town Hall Meeting in March this year. “And the teachings and the practice that I live in my everyday life… is this practice of what’s called Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga. Bhakti Yoga is developing a loving relationship with God. It’s a very deeply personal relationship. And Karma Yoga is seeing how can I dedicate my energy and skills and time into the service of others.”
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