The students of the Washington D.C. and Baltimore area are forever grateful to Festival of India because of it's outstanding work to help us publicize and build membership of our Krishna clubs. This spring in April and May of 2012, we invited the Festival of India to four campuses: the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), George Washington University, and American University. In just four campus Festivals of India in the spring of 2012, over 6,000 students got a positive first time exposure to Krishna consciousness. They experienced the colorful vibrant Vedic culture, Srila Prabhupada's books, and mouthwatering prasadam free feast. Since the university authorities expressed great pleasure by the happy atmosphere created by the Festival of India, they are looking forward to hosting the Festival of India again on their campuses during the fall semester.
Not only students, but professors, university faculty, and staff enjoyed the festival. University of Maryland professor Dr. Larry Wilt who visited India with his wife twice in the past ten years, smiled while looking at the Festival of India exhibits and bright colorful tents on his campus. While enjoying a plate of prasadam, he commented that attending the Festival of India on campus made him feel like he had a free mini vacation to India.
It all started in 2010 when the Festival of India came to the University of Maryland College Park. Anand Gupta, the current president of the University of Maryland Bhagavad-Gita Club says, "We had 25 students coming to our weekly vegetarian cooking class. After Festival of India, we started having 250 students. Now, due to having the Festival of India every semester, our numbers are increasing. We have 350 students coming every week. The Festival of India attracts serious, interested students." In addition to the popular free vegetarian cooking class on campus, the University of Maryland holds weekly Bhagavad-Gita class. Thirty seven students regularly chant Hare Krishna on beads and are following the four regulative principals. They even enjoy coming on field trips to Gita Nagari farm and rise for mangala arati and help with the farming. Seventy five percent of the students are coming from Western upbringing; twenty five percent of the students are coming from Indian Hindu background.
"We eagerly look forward to Festival of India coming to town because it attracts thousands of students to Krishna consciousness and greatly increases the amount of students coming to our weekly programs," states Sankirtan Yagna Prabhu. He devotedly cooks the delicious prasadam feasts for the four campus Festivals of India. Each week, for the campus preaching programs, he cooks mouthwatering international prasadam delights like scrumptious veggie burgers, gourmet sandwich wraps, cakes, and countless varieties of vegetarian Indian, Thai, Tex-Mex, Middle Eastern, Italian, Brazilian, American, and Chinese delectible free feasts. During the recent two day Festival of India at the University of Maryland College Park, 2,500 students ate the delectible feast.
Because the devotees are very encouraged by the success of the Fesival of India on the four campuses in the Baltimore/Washington area, now they are in the process of starting Krishna conscious clubs at University of D.C. and at Howard University. They are enthusiastic to welcome Festival of India to come to six campuses in the fall. "We Baltimore/Washington area devotees are forever indebted to Madhuha Prabhu for bringing the Festival of India here and are eager to have the Festival of India on more campuses," says Jahnavi devi dasi. Now, it has become a tradition to host the Festival of India on the four Baltimore/Washington area campuses. Students comment that they look forward to it every semester.
Just to get an idea of what the University of Maryland's Festival of India is like, please feel free to click on the link below. The University of Maryland news (called The Diamonback) did an excellent news story cover on the Festival of India, called "A Taste of Culture."
Please feel free to happily click on this cute little news footage: