The number and quality of the singers was impressive, even for seasoned kirtan-goers.
New Vrindavan, the ISKCON farm community in the foothills of West Virginia, USA, hosted its sixth 24 hour kirtan over the weekend of the 16th June. Organised by Mantrology, a cutting edge music organisation, this twice-yearly festival gave participants the opportunity to chant with some of the most gifted mantra musicians in the world.
The festival, attended by over 700 people, offered participants the unique opportunity to deeply dive into the essence of mantra. The maha-mantra, which is said to contain within it all other mantras, was chanted for a full 24 hours, without break.
Mantralogy co-founder, Keli Lalita Reddy, commenting on the festival said, “For me 24 hour kirtan is one of the greatest days of the year… In the wee hours of the night, after many hours of chanting has passed, I felt as though layers of ego and self-judgement were being systematically and delicately stripped away by the transcendental sound.”
Jaya Krsna Dasa, New Vrindavan’s community president, commented, “Having so many visitors to the festival has created such a tremendous atmosphere. I have never seen our car park so full!”
As a prelude to the 24 hour kirtan, festivities began on Friday evening with melodious kirtans and a swan boat festival on the lake near the temple building. The organisers were delighted to again have their long-serving cook, Shanka Dasa, visit from Alachua to take charge of preparing delicious prasadam (sacred vegetarian food) for the guests.
Inaugurating the 24 hour kirtan on Saturday morning, Radhanath Swami, author of the book The Journey Home, gave the morning lecture describing the benefits of chanting Hare Krishna in kirtan.
At 11AM Madhava Dasa, the acclaimed kirtan leader who spent years in Vrindavana, India, as part of the Krishna-Balarama Temple’s 24 hour kirtan party, opened the chanting with a 90 minute session. Bada Hari Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and a professionally trained devotee musician known for his inspiring and soulful chants, then led the singing.
The number and quality of the singers was impressive, even for seasoned kirtan-goers. A special feature of the festival were the number of youngsters, early teenagers and younger, who led some sessions of the chanting.
To inspire everyone to either stay through the late hours of the night, or start their chanting early in the morning, Madhava again took up the lead at 4 AM. Agnideva Dasa, a long-standing kirtan leader, sang for the last session.
The kirtans were both meditative and rousing, with plenty of space both for those who wanted to simply sit and meditate and those that wanted to use their abundant energies to dance for the pleasure of the Lord.
The festival was broadcast live around the world via webcam. The recordings will be available for free download at www.mantralogy.com/24.
The next 24 hour kirtan at New Vrindavan will be on 13–14 October, 2012.