Bringing Krishna Culture Festivals to a City Near You

Festival of India--Now Available for Smaller Events

Submitted by madhuha on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 15:35
Tour Diary

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 or call 336-558-7340. Hare Krishna

The Festival Of The Chariots Inside Ratha-yäträ…With an Old Insider From BTG #12-6, 1977

Submitted by madhuha on Thu, 11/20/2008 - 01:05
Tour Diary

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 2008 Festival

Submitted by madhuha on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 00:02

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


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.


Thank you,

Your humble Servant

Ramacharan Dasa

New Exhibits for the 2008 Festival Tour

Submitted by madhuha on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 16:43
Tour Diary

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 often to see festival photos, and read about schedule changes, confirmations, and updates.

See you at a festival soon. Hare Krishna!

Changing Bodies Reincarnates

Submitted by madhuha on Sun, 12/23/2007 - 04:18

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

Changing Bodies Diorama

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!

Hare Krishna Festival 2008 Schedule

Submitted by madhuha on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 00:54
Tour Diary

Festival Of India 2008 Summer Tour

March 21 Gaura-purnima
April 16, 17 and 18 ***Gainesville, Florida
May 30, 31/June 1 ***Baltimore, Maryland
June 6, 7 and 8 ***Atlanta, Ga – Panihati Cida-dahi Festival
June 14 ***New York City, New York
June 21 Festival Of India is Availble
June 28 ***Detroit. Mi. (Belle Isle)
June 29 Chicago, Illinois
July 4 ***Washington D.C.
July 12 and 13 Montreal, Quebec, Canada
July 19 and 20 ***Toronto, Ontario, Canada
July 27 ***San Francisco, California
August 3 ***Los Angeles, California
August 9 and 10 ***Vancouver, B.C.--Ratha Yatra
August 23 ***Vancouver, B.C.--Sri Krishna Janmastami
August 24 ***Vancouver, B.C. Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa Puja
Labor Day weekend ***Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
September 6 Calgary, Alberta
September 13 ***Philadelphia, Pa.
October 11 Washington D.C.--Sri RAMA Vijayotsava

***CONFIRMED Hare Krishna!

Hare Krishna Youth Ministry / Festival Of India

Submitted by madhuha on Fri, 09/14/2007 - 00:05
Tour Diary

For many years the Hare Krishna Youth Ministry has been complementing the Festivals Of India all over North America. This year the Youth Ministry presented an awesome one and a half hour long musical "Devotion--The Yoga Of Love" in which they used many of their talents including: drama; bhajans; kirtans; musical performance; and beautifully choreographed Bharat Natyam pieces. To see more than 630 photos and read Manu Prabhu's reports from the 2007 summer tour, please go here:

Edmonton- FOI's Far North Destination

Submitted by mrdas on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 20:29
Tour Diary

For the better part of a week the crew experienced the northern city's unique
features most conspicuous of all the daily movements of the sun which set at
about 11Pm and rose again at around 5AM. The temple allowed us rather free
rein of its kitchen so we were sort of ' on our own'

Set up began early -Friday but was still going on Sunday AM because of
numerous additions and rough weather conditions, For example, the night
before the festival at around\d mid-night a strong rain storm charged in
from the west. That fierce energy threw down a couple of free standing
panel displays and sent sculptures flying.

In the Morning the warm if not hot sunshine returned as everything was
replaced and straightened. The temple Kitchen pumped out huge quantities of
fresh feasting preparations, then the parade gathered all the eager devotees
and families for a tour of the area which led them back for the day of days
in Edmonton.

Hundreds lined up for heaping plates of prasadam as sweet Hare Krishna
kirtan soothed the hearts and minds of all who attended. Being seated
comfortably in the ample facility undoubtedly satisfied everybody.
Two plus hours of scheduled stage presentations followed. This included
greeting distinguished guests, dance, tabla and children's performances,
more awards of volumes of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is and theatrical productions
by Festival of India's members and the efforts of the local devotees under
the tutelage of HH Bhakti Marga Swami.

All too Quickly, the day came to a close, the wonderfully co operative
devotees and congregation performed the demanding task of dis-assembling
the Festival of India displays and tents and stage , winding of ropes and
pulling of stakes and more- yet in a mere two and a half hours of effort,
the work met with its end.
The doors to the truck closed, gratitude was expressed, a quick clean up, a
sampling of refreshment then off into the sunset drove the Festival of India
crew and equipment.

Next destination- Los Angeles, California's Venice Beach~ the biggest and
boldest set up of the season and this after thirty- six hours of driving
time... How do they do it!

Calgary Number 3

Submitted by mrdas on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 20:28
Tour Diary

Four days of fuel consumption with stops in Winnipeg, Regina and several
other remote outposts certainly delivered a clear view of Canada's vast
agricultural and wilderness bounty.

On Thursday the Festival of India Truck and van pulled in to a truck stop
center in the city of Calgary and by pre-dawn Friday we entered to area of
Millennium Park. That day was spent erecting a horseshoe shaped layout of
exhibit and concessional tents centered around a generous seating area
facing the wide stage platform.
Mighty winds blew through the site in the course of the evening but by
morning only a few signs needed attention before the panel displays emerged
from their racks.

The Hare Krishna Youth Ministry members filled the crowd around the carts
then almost immediately reappeared on stage to round out the gala days'

Again the festival of India crew led the assembled volunteers in repacking
the trailer for the next event Edmonton for which we departed that very

Bidding farewell to Calgary and the bus tour youth, we motored due north to
a new city for FOI- Edmonton, Alberta

Center Island Extravaganza

Submitted by mrdas on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 20:27
Tour Diary

Arriving in Toronto, we pulled up beside the solid stone church built in
1896 (the year of Srila Prabhupada's appearance) there we camped for a
couple of days before departing for center Island with a rental pick up
truck to assist in conveying each item of FOI equipment across the impasse of
the bridge that separates the passenger ferry landing from the open areas of
the island.
Three days of intense labor had us ' ahead of schedule'

Saturday morning most of the crew joined the parade marching / dancing/
chanting down Younge street in flawlessly sunny conditions.

Shortly thereafter, on the island the entertainment began as
extraordinarily long lines pointed in the direction of the cooked - on -
site Free Feast. Then rain began to fall. Not to dampen the spirits of the
eager crow who simply moved beneath the tent tops and the trees. Soon the
rain subsided though the air had become cool.

Still, Lord Jagannatha's radiant smiles benefited everyone. Dances were
danced, Kirtan were played, and other musical performances and dramatic
presentations captivated all. With more of the same on Sunday preceded by a
fire sacrifice and vows, the whole week end seemed as quick as a lightening
flash. The impact, however, can not be estimated in sense of time.

"A reverse of the set up procedures had every piece of equipment back over
the bridge in the pick- up then to the FOI truck and secured.
By mid-day Monday we began the long haul / a transcontinental Canadian

The next festival was in Calgary, Alberta but 2100 miles of roads separated
us from our service.