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A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Sadhu Sanga Kirtan Retreat Returns to Texas with Record-Breaking Attendance
By ISKCON News   |  Jun 08, 2024
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Over Memorial Day weekend 2024, more than 3,100 devotees gathered in Frisco, Texas, for the 11th annual US-based Sadhu Sanga Kirtan Retreat, organized by Indradyumna Swami. The sold-out event was held at the Frisco Convention Center near Dallas, Texas and welcomed devotees from 46 states and 14 countries.

Attendees enjoyed 24 hours of joyful kirtans from Acyuta Gopi Dasi, Bada Haridas, Gaura Vani Dasa, Indradyumna Swami, Madhava Dasa, Mayuri Gandharvika Priya Dasi, Mukunda Datta Dasa, Vaisesika Dasa, Radhanath Swami, Sri Prahlada Dasa and Srikar Valluri. Each day began with a full morning program, including Srimad Bhagavatam classes given by Vaisesika Dasa, Radhanath Swami, and Mukunda Datta Dasa. Vaisesika Dasa also served as this year’s MC.

In addition to the kirtaneers, devotees relished the association of so many devotees, including senior leaders such as Giriraja Swami, Danavir Goswami, Bhakti Sundar Goswami, Rtadhvaja Swami, Candramauli Swami, Anant Krishna Swami, Jananivasa Dasa, Sesa Dasa, Caturatma Dasa, Nirakula Dasi, Kosa Rupa Dasi, Pranada Dasi and several other disciples of Srila Prabhupada. A massive team of volunteers served over 25,000 plates of prasadam over the course of the holiday weekend, including a 14-item salad bar for lunch and dinner.

Lila Kirtan: Mindfulness to Mantra

Saturday evening was marked by an unforgettable performing arts experience blending soul-stirring kirtans, storytelling, dance, and drama called “Lila Kirtan: Mindfulness to Mantra.” A collaboration between Sri Prahlad and Prem Hamilton, the Lila Kirtan experience tells the story of Pariksit Maharaja through music, stunning visuals, and interpretive dance. The unique offering, which is touring the world, also brought the audience into the performance through the chanting of mantras and gestures. The first performance of the evening was led by Sri Prahlad, and the second performance was guided by Gaura Vani. The Lila Kirtan band is planning a US tour this Summer-Fall. Please check out their website for more information and to include your city in the tour.

Behind the scenes

Govinda Charan Das and his wife Rasika Siromani Dasi, both disciples of Indradyumna Swami, plan for the retreat year-round with the help of a small core group of about 20 devotees.

“Rasarani Dasi, our Chief Kitchen Officer, lives only a few minutes away,” said Rasika Siromani. “Daruka Dasa and his wife Swetha Manjari Dasi, both disciples of Tamal Krsna Goswami, are the master chefs of Sadhu Sanga. They are experts in making specialty items in huge quantities, which is very difficult to do.” Rasavilas Dasa from Salt Lake City, Sanatan Priya Dasa from Denver, Rasaraja Syama Dasa from Virginia, Amritanjali Dasi, and Navin Madhava Dasa from Laguna Beach also served as additional cooks. Sriji Kumari Dasi from Laguna Beach led all the baking this year with her team. Prema Radhika Dasi from Dallas led all the frying. Lopamudra Dasi from Dallas and Bliss Kitchen from New York prepared some of the desserts.

Dvijavara Dasa and his team did an incredible job of setting up the stage with A/V and lights that created a warm, welcoming space for devotee association, kirtan, and classes. Ayan Gupta Dasa, a second-generation devotee, stunned the devotees with brilliant backdrops on the gigantic LED screen. Syama Darsani Dasi from Moldova and her team decorated the kirtan hall with a Vrindavan theme, creating archways overflowing with flowers, parrots, and colorful hangings ornamented with Sri Radha’s holy name.

Priyacarana Dasi and Vrajapati Dasa from Chicago, along with Seva Swarupa Dasa from India, developed all the software used for registration and the retreat’s year-round organization.

Amrita Sundari Dasi from Utah and her team handled the thousands of emails sent by devotees with special requests or questions. Vamsidhari Gopal Dasa from Charlotte and Sacindra Krsna Dasa from Palo Alto managed all the cooking ingredients. Devadarsana Dasa, Vrajendra Suta Dasa from Dallas, and Krsna Swarupa Dasa from Denver led the prasadam serving teams.

Sacisuta Dasa and Rasarani Dasi from Detroit organized all the volunteers for vegetable cut-ups. Raghavacarya Dasa from New Vrindavan, Dana Keli Cintamani Dasi from San Francisco, and Kandarpika Dasi from Mexico ensured the kitchen and dining areas were spotless and clean after each meal. Aditya Narayan Dasa from North Carolina served as the stage manager. Nritya Kishori Dasi from Dallas arranged the transport of all the kirtaneers, and several local devotees hosted them before and after the event. Several Dallas devotees, such as Vivek Kumar, Sugandhar Chiranjeevi, Tulasi Sharan Dasa, and tens of students from local universities, helped with shopping, storage, transportation, and decor.

Scores of youth from ISKCON of Silicon Valley and their friends from other places helped with scanning the NFC tags in wristbands for event analytics.

These core volunteers were joined by 500 more participants who volunteered during the retreat weekend to help with cooking, cleaning, serving, transportation, and more.

About 80 devotees generously sponsored part of the prasadam for the retreat, including the grand sponsorship of ice cream by devotees of New Navadvip Dham headed by Sarvajaya Madhava Dasa.

This year’s Sadhu Sanga also sponsored 40 disciples of Srila Prabhupada, enabling them to associate with their god siblings and the younger devotees present. Along with their team, Lalitha Madhavi Dasi and Ram Vijaya Dasa from Austin took charge of serving them specially prepared prasadam in a restaurant-style lounge area.

Over 100 children were engaged in arts and crafts activities led by Gourangi Gandharvika Devi Dasi from Mayapur. These activities took place at the back of the kirtan hall, allowing the kids to enjoy the kirtans while staying engaged throughout the day.

Outreach Efforts

In addition to senior devotees and multi-generational devotee families, this year’s event also welcomed many who are new to Krishna Consciousness. ISKCON of Silicon Valley, under the guidance of Vaisesika Dasa, distributed 38 sets of the Srimad Bhagavatam, 16 sets of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, and many smaller books to spiritual seekers. In addition, 300 copies of Indradyumna Swami’s latest outreach book, Adventures of a Traveling Monk, and 480 copies of Vaisesika Dasa’s new bridge book, The Four Questions, were also distributed.

Joint Initiations

One of the special features of the Sadhu Sanga Kirtan Retreat is the joint initiation ceremony, wherein various spiritual masters come together to perform initiations. This unique, collaborative event reinforces the sweet mood of cooperation amongst the stalwart leaders. This year, 16 devotees received their first or second initiations from Indradyumna Swami, Rtadhvaja Swami, Kalakantha Dasa, and Vaisesika Dasa.

Rtadhvaja Swami, Indradyumna Swami, Kalakantha Dasa, and Vaisesika Dasa at joint initiation ceremony.

T-shirts and Water Bottles

Meanwhile, a favorite aspect of the retreat for the volunteers is the custom-designed T-shirts they are offered each year. This year’s T-shirt was designed by Parasuraman Dasa from Bengaluru with the theme “Sweeter than the sweetest thing, the Holy Name of Sri Hari is everything.”  This year, all sponsors also received a custom-engraved high-quality water bottle with the Sadhu Sanga logo.

Where Can You Watch the 2024 Sadhu Sanga or View More Photos?

All 2024 Sadhu Sanga kirtans and classes are available on the official Sadhu Sanga YouTube channel. A 2024 Sadhu Sanga photo album can be viewed here. A special thank to Ananta Vrindavan Dasa for the photos.

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