Bringing Krishna Culture Festivals to a City Near You
This year marks the Seventh Annual Hare Krishna Rathayatra and Festival of India in Baltimore, Maryland, officially proclaimed Rathayatra Day by the Mayor of Baltimore. The event will take place on Saturday, May 30th at Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor from 12 Noon till 7pm.
Each year thousands of plates of prasadam, sanctified food, are distributed for free, along with hundreds of pieces of literature explaining the Vedic philosophy and Krishna consciousness, to passersby. Hundreds of ISKCON devotees and congregation members from as far as New York, Philadelphia, Virginia and North Carolina also make the long journey to attend this ecstatic festival. Festival goers enjoy pulling the grand chariot of Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra for two hours to the sound of melodious kirtan as dancing devotees sway back and forth inside a crowd of jubilant onlookers. Representatives from State Senators’, the Governors’, Mayors’, Councilmen and Delegates’ offices present Citations of Appreciation followed by an afternoon of traditional devotional music, dance and drama. And the numerous and informative multi-colored Festival of India exhibits and displays further educate the newly introduced festival attendees.
For more information contact:
From iskconnews.com By Madhava Smullen, February 8, 2009
When you think of Hare Krishnas, you may think of music, singing, dancing, sumptuous vegetarian feasts, and bright colors. It seems that for Krishna devotees, every day is a festival. And that’s barely an exaggeration. There are over forty major and minor festivals on the Vaishnava calendar honoring every saint and sacred event imaginable, and that’s not counting the Sunday Feasts put on every week for the public. But even that’s not enough – festivals are also one of our main methods of outreach, with devotees traveling cross-country to share their spiritual food, music and philosophy with others. So wherever you are, and whatever time of year it is, if you feel like attending a Hare Krishna festival – you’re likely to find one close to your location soon.
Festival of India
One of ISKCON’s most established traveling programs in the US, Festival of India, is making this even more likely by meeting requests from ISKCON temples around the country for festivals that are smaller and more affordable that its usual full roadshow. The Mini Hare Krishna Festival, available since the beginning of 2009, offers local ISKCON outreach a roster of flexible options including multimedia exhibit “Changing Bodies/Journey of the Soul,” and seven tents with banners such as “Books on Yoga and Meditation,” “Free Feast,” “Govinda’s Gift Shop,” and “Please Chant Hare Krishna.”
“Festivals are not the right kind of outreach for all ISKCON centers,” says Festival of India organizer Madhuha Dasa. “They require a lot of time, money, manpower and organization. “But the results – increased attendance at Sunday Feasts, more customers at Govinda's restaurants, general raised awareness of ISKCON in your area – are wonderful.”
Madhuha knows plenty about the results of a traveling festival program – he has spent much of the past thirty years on the road with Festival of India.
“It all started when I was passing through New York on my way to an ISKCON mission in Africa,” Madhuha explains. “I bumped into FOI’s founders Devi Deva, Charu and Vaibhavi, who were putting on their very first festival, joined the team, and that was it.”
Festival of India had been initiated earlier that year when Devi Deva noticed that the equipment required to put on festivals – tents, exhibits, stage, sound system and a storage facility for it all – was too expensive for most ISKCON temples to afford. Instead, why not send one set of equipment and a team of devotees trained to use it to as many cities as possible? He joined forces with Caru Dasa and his wife the artist Vaibhavi Dasi, and together they set to work designing and building exhibits.
But soon after their first festival, Devi Deva left the program and went on to run ISKCON’s charity Food For Life in Philadelphia. Caru and Vaibhavi continued to manage the tour until 1982, but then moved to Utah were Charu started KHQN Krishna Radio, and Vaibhavi designed the famous Spanish Fork temple. For Madhuha, destiny was waiting. It had seemed as if his joining Festival of India was only a chance encounter – but it was obvious that all along, Krishna had planned the festival tour to be his life.
It’s a rewarding one, but not easy. To ensure an economical schedule, Madhuha has to contact ISKCON Centers across North America in August to plan the next summer’s festivals. “I have to try and get everyone a date they’re happy with, and get permits from city authorities that match up with those dates, all by March 1st,” Madhuha says. “Every year it seems like a miracle, but somehow, it happens.”
The excitement of the festival tour brings Madhuha plenty of helpers every year, but the austerity of traveling for four months straight ensures a big turnover. Still, there’s a solid crew. Second generation ISKCON devotees Govinda and Isvara Puri both traveled with FOI between the ages of 12 and 25, and now continue to help at New York Rathayatra every year; Phani Bhusan Dasa, with his skits, preaching and practical help, has been a key figure since 1992; Jagannatha Puri Dhama Dasa and Premanjana Dasa have both been a part of the crew for several years; and newcomer Krishna Balarama, who studied live sound reinforcement in college, is in charge of the sound system and looks set to stay for the long haul.
Then, of course, there’s the ISKCON Youth. In the 1990s, boarding school teacher Ritadvija Swami began following FOI with two passenger vans and 28 teenage boys. By 2003, ISKCON Youth Ministry volunteer Manu Dasa had acquired Garuda 2, a 45-foot full-size deluxe coach. And today, fifty-five youth travel alongside Festival of India, helping to set up and take down the tents and performing in front of audiences.
“The Youth Ministry has made a great impact on the festivals,” Madhuha enthuses. “There are other professional dance and theater troupes out there, but the Ministry’s stage performances are so much more powerful. They are inspiring, full of feeling, and have introduced crowds of thousands to the deep and rich Vedic Culture of India as Srila Prabhupada has given it to us.”
Some have denounced Festival of India as an outdated method of outreach, but Madhuha says the facts speak for themselves. “People everywhere want to have a good time, and when they see our bright colorful tents, giant Rathayatra chariots, dancing, singing and feasting, they want to be part of it,” he explains. “At the Washington DC festival for instance, as Manu and the Youth Ministry sing on stage, they are often joined by several thousand people, mostly non-devotees and all chanting and dancing in ecstacy.”
It may sound overly simple to some, he says, but FOI’s only mission is to attract people’s attention and then get them to chant Hare Krishna and read at least one of Srila Prabhupada’s books. “Last year I met someone at our book booth in San Francisco who had received a Bhagavad-gita at our festival there five years ago and became a vegetarian after reading it,” he says. “They thanked me and purchased another Gita to give to one of their friends. The book obviously made a tremendous impact on that person, and now their spiritual life has begun. That’s good enough for me.”
Madhuha admits that the festival’s overall impact could be improved, but says he’s upgrading as fast as necessary funds come in. In 2008, the new multimedia mobile exhibit The Changing Bodies/Journey of The Soul was added with the help of Ambarisa Ford. “It’s built around the existing reincarnation exhibit Changing Bodies, and enhances its impact using modern technology such as LED lights, show-control computer system, rear projection, and digital sound and video equipment,” Madhuha says. “8,000 people went through it in 2008, and many purchased Bhagavad-gitas when they emerged.”
Madhuha’s future goals are simple: He wants to ensure that Festival of India stays alive and continues to expand long after he is gone, a mission the program’s new mini festivals will go some way to achieving. Festival of India shows no signs of slowing down in 2009 – you can catch the show this winter in Florida, with summer festivals running all the way from late May to December.
ISKCON Los Angeles Rathayatra Outreach
ISKCON Los Angeles has also contributed its resources to special events and smaller ISKCON centers over the years. Every year, traveling festival organizer Ratnabhusana Dasa and his crew of half a dozen devotees head out to LA’s Kingdom Day, San Diego’s Earth Day, and Boise, Idaho’s Liberty Day parades with a Rathayatra cart and a colorful collection of tents and booths.
In Boise, a small city where the temple is run by one devotee and his family, the Liberty Day parade is a huge opportunity for outreach. Sacred prasadam food is served, the public ooh and aah at the Rathayatra cart, and many visit the little temple after the parade.
It’s a major contrast to San Diego’s Earth Day, an environmentally-themed parade that’s one of the biggest in the US. Last year two hundred devotees participated, pulling LA’s Rathayatra cart from one end of Balboa Park to the other, and showering onlookers with flower petals.
Afterwards, devotees set up shop in Balboa Park for the Earth Fair, which draws 60,000 visitors. Devotees transferred the local temple’s entire gift store to a huge tent in the park, offering everything from neckbeads to saris to face-painting. But most popular by far was the prasadam booth, with three lines serving vegan food, pizza, and traditional Indian fare. ISKCON’s presence at the event is so popular that the San Diego Union has featured the devotees and their Ratha yatra cart on its front page for three years running.
In LA, Hare Krishnas were also very popular at the recent Kingdom Day parade in honor of Martin Luther King, which draws crowds of several hundred thousand. “People love our food , the colorful Rathayatra cart, and especially the chanting,” says Los Angeles temple president Svavasa Dasa. “They’re always coming out onto the street to dance with us. One year we even had a surprise visit from the mayor of LA, who happened to be right in front of us in his convertible. When the parade got stuck at one junction and stopped for a while, he hopped out of the car and started dancing with the devotees.”
ISKCON Los Angeles even received a second place trophy for most colorful presentation, and were featured on live television.
“Here in LA we thrive on festivals,” Svavasa says. “As well as the traveling festival program, we have about 18 major festivals a year at the temple. Festivals are our way to develop congregation members and the perfect marketing tool to introduce Krishna consciousness to westerners. They give people a taste of everything – the culture, the sounds, the tastes, the colors, association, books, and the philosophy. It’s a whole menu of sense perception.”
LA’s traveling festival program is set to expand soon, with three new fullsize Rathayatra carts on the way. “It’s an incredible feat of engineering from Ratnabhushana,” Svavasa says. “They’ll all fold up to fit into a 53-foot trailer. Only one of them has been built so far, and already devotees are requesting them for festivals. There are definitely some exciting years ahead.”
Some devotees are using the same basic Hare Krishna festival template to plug into more alternative events. Held just east of Reno, Nevada, in the Black Rock desert, Burning Man grew from a local West Coast event into a huge international phenomenon, drawing 55,000 people from all over the world. And while other similar events such as the Rainbow Gathering attract a more hippie crowd, Burning Man is different. Its mostly young and partly middle-aged audience tend to be more on the successful, career-oriented side – Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were regulars in its early days – and make an effort to express themselves and step outside the borders of contemporary society.
“It’s more than just a big party,” says Chris Ficci, an ISKCON devotee who has participated in Burning Man’s Krishna Camp several times. “It’s an expression of alternative values through politics, the environment, creativity, culture, and spirituality. People there are progressively minded and trying to change the world, trying to change the way people think.”
But what is Burning Man? Organizers have said, “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.” Chris Ficci’s explanation, “a connection of contemporary counterculture, people getting together and testing the boundaries of human expression,” seems as close as you’ll get.
Physically, Burning Man comprises of hundreds of themed camps, some small scale, some larger scale with six or seven big tents. “Some are pretty far out,” Chris says. “They have all kinds of amazing art exhibits. And Entheon Village, one of the groups we worked with this year, had a psycedhelic spirituality theme, with different workshops – some of them involved music, and we did a lot of kirtan for them.”
This year, a wide range of ISKCON devotees from the West Coast and across the US attended Burning Man – the event is becoming particularly popular with the younger devotee community. “There are already many spiritual groups there,” says Chris. “But we bring our own spiritual energy to it. We try to create a strong Krishna conscious presence by doing lots of kirtan, and distributing lots of prasadam and books.”
According to Chris, people at Burning Man are very forward-looking, and are trying to change the way we live in many ways. Their belief is that we need to shift our values away from consumption and exploitation of the environment, and towards more harmony and connection with the earth we live on. And with physical proof that we have taken this planet to its breaking point everywhere, many have been motivated to think outside the box – to return to a simpler connection to the planet and to spirituality.
“A new counterculture is arising,” Chris says. “Many different environmental movements are active, interest in eastern spirituality, yoga, and meditation is very commonplace, and people have a lot of hope in our new president. The Hare Krishnas were a big part of the original counterculture in the 1960s, and we have a chance to be a part of this one too.”
Burning Man, he explains, is the key event of this counterculture. It’s important for devotees to establish a visible presence there, for people to be able to see and speak with them. And as the next generation of devotees try to define where to take the Hare Krishna Movement in the future, it’s important to connect with forward-looking people at and beyond Burning Man.
“We’re always taking steps to increase the visibility of Krishna Camp,” Chris says. “We’re in the process of buying a portable kitchen and hope to have a 24-hour kitchen set up for next year’s event, so that people can come in at any time and take prasadam. And in the future, we hope to have a larger scale camp, complete with workshops and multimedia events.”
Whatever the location or style, festivals will obviously remain ISKCON’s premier method of outreach. “Festivals are a sure way to attract people with a favorable Krishna conscious experience,” Madhuha says. “Give them Kirtan, prasadam, and at least one of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Perfect, what else do you need?”
“As Srila Prabhupada said in an August, 1973 letter: ‘So this festival program is very very important and it is especially effective for the mass of people. So go on making festivals and make everyone in America Krishna conscious.’”
For the complete story with images at ISKCON News, please visit: http://www.iskconnews.com/node/1708
We’ve had many requests from all over North America for a “smaller” or “more economical” program. Starting this new year, 2009, the (Mini) Hare Krishna Festival will be available at a reasonable cost for programs at preaching centers, universities, parks, and other locations--- the front or back yard of your preaching center/home, or anyplace else where there is room for us to set up, yes, we can do it.
We’re flexible; here’s what a Mini-festival may consist of: The new “Changing Bodies/Journey Of The Soul” Multi-Media Experience Exhibit; up to 7 tents; banners including, but not limited to: the full Mahamantra (spelled out); “Books on Yoga and Meditation”; “The Yoga Experience”; “Free Feast”; “Govinda’s Gift Shop”;“Delicious Snacks”; “Please Chant Hare Krishna” and there are many other options to choose from as well. A small stage may also be available for some locations.
Since it’s inception in 1979, Festival of India’s principle purpose has been to introduce people to the deep and rich Vedic culture of India. Srila Prabhupada has given the essence of that wonderful Krishna conscious culture in his books. We introduce the masses to that special culture by making sure as many people as possible receive Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental books, at the festivals.
Festivals are a sure way to attract people with a favorable Krishna conscious experience. Give them Kirtan, Krishna prasadam, and at least one of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Perfect, what else do you need?
“…So this festival program is very very important and it is especially effective for the mass of people. So go on making festivals and make everyone in America Krishna conscious…” Srila Prabhupada letter 73-08-28
Festival of India has been, and will continue to be available to help you distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books to people in your city. Take advantage now, use this valuable service. Please schedule your 2009 festival today!
For more information on bringing Festival of India to your city, please contact us. Email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-558-7340. Hare Krishna
Here's an interview that BTG did with Jayananda Prabhu, about 30 years ago. This is a wonderful article that gives some of the history, and the origin of TRYP (Traveling Ratha-yatra Party), that became Festival Of India.
BTG: Jayänanda; how did you first get involved in Krishna consciousness?
Jayänanda däsa: I heard Srila Prabhupäda speaking in' San Francisco, and somehow I knew he didn't want to cheat me. So I just' wanted to work for him.
BTG: And now for ten years you've worked on the Ratha-yäträ carts.
Jayänanda däsa: Yes.
BTG: What were the first Ratha-yatras like?
Jayänanda däsa: The first year, 1967, we just rented a flatbed truck and started out in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. We decorated the truck with flowers and put the Deities on the back, and the girls passed out fruit. A good crowd walked along with us at the beginning, and when we turned off Haight Street a smaller group of maybe fifty people came with us and we went all the way to the beach.
The second year we made our own cart, with saffron silk canopies, small ones. And we had the parade through Golden Gate Park to the beach. By that time the San Francisco temple had grown a little—we had maybe thirty devotees—and about one hundred people came with us through the park. The chanting was very nice that year.
Then in 1969 we built a much bigger cart, with a tall silk canopy, like the ones they build in Jagannätha Puri in India. But in 1970 we worked for two months straight and built the three big carts, basically the same ones we use now. Also we had all kinds of publicity—TV, billboards, posters. And Srila Prabhupäda came to that Ratha-yäträ. So a lot of people came, maybe twelve thousand people. It was big—a tremendous success. We had a few mishaps, though. One cart broke down in the middle of the parade. And it was a bitter cold day. But even though it was so cold at the beach, thousands of people stayed there with us and ate a lot of Krishna prasädam [spiritual food offered to Krishna]. We brought twenty fifty-gallon barrels of prasädam, and they ate it all.
Later that year the auditorium we used at the beach was torn down. So in 1971 we decided to end the parade in the park, at Lindley Meadow. That year, and in 1972 and 1973, the parade was a little smaller than in 1970.
In 1974 Bhakta däsa came to San Francisco to be temple president, and he decided to expand the Ratha-yatra. He spent more money on it than before, and maybe twenty thousand people attended that year. The police remarked that we were the only group that could get such a large gathering together without creating a problem for them. Srila Prabhupäda came that year and gave a speech at the Meadow. He was sitting beneath the Jagannätha Deities on Their opulent three-tiered stage. Even without much understanding everyone could appreciate that here was a majestic, awe-inspiring celebration. Another wonderful thing we started that year was the fairground-type booths at the Meadow. You could see the unlimited scope of the Vedic culture. We had a Deity workshop booth, a transcendental art booth, a literature booth, and of course many booths selling food. Now that's become a regular feature of the festival.
In 1975 I tried out making steel wheels, but the chariots were so heavy they flattened the steel and made the ride very bumpy for the Deities. So now we're back to the standard wooden wheels.
BTG: What instructions has Srilla Prabhupäda given you about Ratha-yäträ?
Jayänanda däsa: I never got much personal instruction. He just told me to make everything strong. I'm not a real visionary about it—I just built the carts.
BTG: Which Ratha-yäträ do you think has been the best so far?
Jayänanda däsa: In New York last year-that was the most festive. Not until then had I experienced so many of the transcendental qualities of Ratha-yäträ. You know—for a parade there's nothing like Fifth Avenue; it's the most important street in the world. And when we went to Washington Square Park to pull the carts home, hours after the parade had finished, thousands of people were still there chanting. They were everywhere. People were coming out of their apartments and coming out of bars shouting "Hare Krishna!" Only in New York could you get such a response.
BTG: Tell us, from your own experience, what the public gets out of Ratha-yäträ.
Jayänanda däsa: The impact is so powerful that everyone's affected. In New York there were thousands of people out on the streets, and they were astounded. It's not that I'm claiming it; the people were interviewed on TV and that's what they said. Also I remember one man with his girl friend (she didn't like us at all) who told me some time after the festival that when he saw the carts coming down the street he felt a parade had just come down from heaven, and that he often remembers the carts and the chanting with pleasure. So people are hit by it. It's so far beyond their usual experience. You can't measure the impact. All year long they do more or less the same things. Maybe they catch a few parades, like the Thanksgiving Day parade. They stand and watch some big balloons go by. But it's all the same. Then, when you have a whole troupe of devotees singing and dancing around these lofty, transcendental chariots—then the people are transformed. They used to be mundane creatures, but when they see the Ratha-yäträ, they're angels. It brings out the best in people to see Lord Jagannätha smiling at them. I tell you, at first their faces looked like they hadn't changed in twenty-five years, and then all of a sudden it was like glass cracking, and you'd see the whole face transformed just by a few moments’ association.
And what to speak of those who take part? Ratha-yäträ encourages everybody to take part. "Come on, walk with us, dance, grab a rope and pull." We don't say, "Don't touch." No—"Join in, have fun." By our nature we all want to participate. Nobody wants to be a bystander. And those who take part are purified of all their sinful karmic reactions just by chanting Hare Krishna and seeing Lord Jagannätha.
BTG: Are there people who regard it as idol worship?
Jayänanda däsa: Yes—they may feel that before, but the impact of the festival is so strong that after it they feel otherwise. They see Lord Jagannätha, and they see how merciful He is, and they can feel that it's not idol worship. And if they read Srila Prabhupäda's books, then they'll understand logically how Lord Jagannätha is not an idol. Of course, at the festival there are always a few faultfinders. Last year in New York one of them had a bullhorn and was shouting.
BTG: What is your understanding of the purpose of Ratha-yäträ?
Jayänanda däsa: To celebrate the pastimes of Krishna. Krishna's so kind; He comes to earth and displays so many wonderful pastimes. Ratha-yäträ celebrates His going to Kurukshetra with Balaräma and Subhadrä, and His meeting there with the residents of Vrindavana, where He was born. The expressions of love shared between the Lord and His devotees make that one of the sweetest pastimes. Ratha-yäträ offers a chance for so many people to be engaged in Krishna consciousness. People don't come to our temples much, but millions are out on the streets. Now here's a chance for them to advance in spiritual life—here comes Lord Jagannätha's festival! They're touched—they become part of the transcendental vibration, and they're purified.
Also, for the devotees it's very beneficial—maybe more for me; Ratha-yäträ is the service that's given me so many of my realizations, the flowering of whatever Krishna consciousness I have. It's not a long-term occupation. It happens all at once, like a big explosion, in the summer. It brings together so many devotees all working together under the spiritual master with one plan. And all the transcendental paraphernalia is there-the Deities, the prasädam, the chanting, the booths, the theater—it's such a surcharged atmosphere. You never forget it. For a devotee to be able to participate in Ratha-yäträ is very good for his Krishna consciousness. When you have these festivals, it gives you a big, powerful event to look forward to, and to work towards. It helps your devotion.
BTG: How about the future growth of Ratha-yäträ?
Jayänanda däsa: One thing that's important is that all the temples should celebrate this wonderful festival. But it isn't practical for each center to construct three carts. So now in Los Angeles we're putting together a traveling party that can go from city to city, with displays and carts that you can assemble and take apart. Then the great expense will be eliminated. Also, we'll have year-round Ratha-yäträs—the South in the winter, the North in the summer. It can be expanded so people will be hearing about Ratha-yäträ all year round-and that will be the perfection of their lives!
BTG: It sounds wonderful. Thank you very much, Jayänanda.
Jayänanda däsa: Thank you. Hare Krishna.
From BTG #12-6, 1977
Philadelphia Ratha Yatra 2008
Date: September 13, 2008 (11 AM - 7 PM)
Ratha Yatra Location: Love Park, Philadelphia PA
Festival of India Location:
Eakin's Oval, Philadelphia Art Museum,
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130-2302
FREE VEGAN & VEGETARIAN FEAST
The Parade of Chariots will begin at 12 noon near Love Park in Center City Philadelphia at 15th and JFK Boulevard. It will proceed from there down the Ben Franklin Parkway to Eakin's Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Arts where the Festival of India will be held. Included in the parade will be a Large Garbha dance Ensemble, lila characters in costume, kirtan chanters and dancers, loving devotees pulling the huge chariot of Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva, Lady Subhadra and Srila Prabhupada.
The Festival of India will begin at 1 PM at Eakin's Oval in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum. It will include a free vegan and vegetarian feast, devotional and contemporary musical performances, Indian classical dance performances, drama, booths recounting the philosophy of reincarnation, Bhagavad-Gita, Yoga, the Hare Krishna Movement, Indian clothing, Sumptuous Vegetarian Cuisine, cultural gifts, Children's activities, and overall family fun. It will last until 7:00 pm.
• Ecstatic Kirtan and Bhajans by Gauravani Dasa, Vishvambara Dasa, Radha Gopinatha Dasa, Kishor, Jagai.
• Indian classical dance including Bharatnatyam and Oddissi by Vrnda Devi, Komala Kumari and Ganga Sheth
• Eastern Folk/Rock by Mangalananda Dasa
• Mantra Meditation and Yoga
• Inspirational Spiritual Discourses
Please join us for this event and become part of the huge procession accompanying the chariots providing music, tumultuous playing of drums, dancing and transcendental activities.
Your humble Servant
Since the end of the 2007 Festival Tour, Phani Bhusan Prabhu, actor, artist and story-teller, has been busy updating the three diaramas he created several years ago: "Bird in the Cage"; "Serve God/Serve Dog"; and the "Fish out of Water" exhibits. These three diaramas, although simple in design, attract many people at every festival to the deep philosophical messages presented in the art.
Seeing the success of these first three diaramas, and the powerful impact they have on so many festival-goers, Phani Prabhu added two more diaramas this year: "The Snake Charmer"; and "Factory Foods".
All five of the diaramas are in first class new condition, with upgraded high quality text panels. Don't miss these simple, yet sublime diaramas, art with a transcendental message! All the text is taken directly from analogies that Srila Prabhupada uses, both in the Srimad Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is.
This year the new mobile Multi-Media "Changing Bodies/Journey Of The Soul" is up and running. We've already used it in Prabhupada Village (Sandy Ridge, North Carolina) at the Gaura Purnima festival in March; then the first public presentation was at the University of Florida, Gainesville campus. After working out a few more of the little bugs, we took the exhibit to the Ratha-Yatra festivals in Baltimore and Cleveland, where it was warmly received and appreciated by many. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. In Baltimore about 48 Bhagavad-Gitas were purchased by people who went through the exhibit, and in Cleveland, another 20 Gitas were received by people who appreciated the exhibit and wanted to "know more".
In the next few weeks we'll be posting some images of all of the above exhibits. Please check into www.festivalofindia.org often to see festival photos, and read about schedule changes, confirmations, and updates.
See you at a festival soon. Hare Krishna!
On May 11, 1977 Srila Prabhupada wrote to Ambarisa Prabhu, "Recently I have received some photographs of the Doll Exhibit which they have prepared in Los Angeles. From the photographs it appears that they have done everything very nicely. This idea of doll exhibitions to demonstrate our philosophy has long been proposed, and my Guru Maharaja was very keen to execute this idea. Therefore I am just trying to give some shape to what my Guru Maharaja wanted."
Today, at museums in Los Angeles, Detroit, New Delhi and elsewhere, these diorama exhibits Srila Prabhupada inspired portray the sublime culture and philosophy he captured in his numerous books. Diorama viewers can quickly understand that they are not temporary bodies but eternal souls, parts and parcels of Lord Sri Krishna. The dioramas present the same message presented by Lord Krishna thousands of years before in the Gita :
"As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change." Bhagavad-Gita 2-13
Now there is a unique opportunity for you to further fulfill this cherished desire of Srila Prabhupada. But first let me share some of my own experiences with this exhibit.
During my years on the Festival of India I have watched our portable Changing Bodies diorama consistently attract thousands of viewers. Of all our exhibits, it has the most transcendental impact. In fact, it is clearly the most prominent component of the festivals. On seeing the Changing Bodies, people ask about reincarnation and often decide to take home Srila Prabhupada's books.
Since 1979 we have presented the Changing Bodies Diorama at more than 850 festivals. Now, to better accommodate this highlight exhibit, we are building a trailer and installing a full multi-media program around it. The exhibit is being repaired and repainted, and we've spent hundreds of hours designing accompanying audio and video programs and the hardware to run them. The resulting mobile Multi-Media presentation will impress the philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita far more effectively than ever before.
Krishna willing, the new presentation will be rolled out on March 19th at the University of Florida, the first festival of our 2008 tour. Inspired by Srila Prabhupada's request, Ambarish Prabhu has offered to match all gifts we receive for this project.
That's right; every dollar you donate toward this exciting preaching project will be instantly doubled. Please help Festival Of India fulfill Srila Prabhupada's desire to bring a "doll museum" to the many cities on Festival Of India's 2008 Tour. You can either mail in your contribution to Festival Of India; P.O. Box 100; Sandy Ridge, NC 27046; or use our secure online contribution terminal on our Get Involved page to make your tax-deductible gift today. Hare Krishna!
Your gift(s) to Festival of India are always greatly appreciated. Thanking you in advance for your participation. Hare Krishna!