Here at ISKCON Pandharpur, we just had our first Youth Festival. More than two hundred youths attended from district towns and villages across Maharashtra including Pandharpur, Jaisingpur, Solapur, Amravati, Pune, Jalgoan, Vita, Satara, Sangli, Aravade, Alibhag, and Bid.
The festival was a co-operative effort of ISKCON Pandharpur and the ISKCON Maharashtra Preaching Ministry (IMPM). The two day festival featured a beautiful candle darshan of Sri Sri Radha Pandharinath, a lecture by His Holiness Lokanath Swami Maharaja on the topic of New Year's Resolutions, kirtans, video shows, dramas, question and answer sessions, and a grand finale Mantra Rock Kirtan!
Three different Marathi newspapers printed highly favorable articles and photos. The Pandhari Newspaper's headline translates as follows: "The Colors of the Devotion of Students are Spreading in the Horizon of Spirituality. - CHANT HARE KRISHNA AND BE HAPPY". The reporter who wrote the following article was so overwhelmed with emotion that he pledged to do anything he could to bring these festivals to colleges across Maharashtra. The reporter was lamenting, "I didn't know ISKCON does programs like this. I thought you people were just chanting Hare Krishna. If I knew it would be like this, I would have brought my son with me today!"
His article in the Sakal Newspaper (Marathi) - (Translated into English by H.G. Prananath Das) is as follows:
Hare Krishna Chants Tumultuous Sound Vibration in ISKCON Pandharpur.
Students are in completely absorbed by the Vibration of Hare Krishna. ISKCON Temple on the bank of Chandrabhaga River: today, so many students became absorbed in hearing the transcendental sound vibration of Hare Krishna and lectures. ISKCON has arranged a wonderful Youth Festival in order that the students can welcome the New Year in a spiritual way. From different parts of the state, more than 100 students have attended this program. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has arranged questions and answers for students, slide show, spiritual drama, seminar, and the kirtan of Hare Krishna Maha Mantra with a variety of instruments.
The main attraction in this festival was HH Lokanath Swami Maharaja. He is world famous for preaching Krishna consciousness. "Today's youth generation in India are blindly following the western culture. And they think that everything is all right. But they are neglecting the path of devotional service. Youths are the real strength of the nation. If they take the proper guidance, and if they follow the principles of Bhagavat religion, then the wealth of the culture will be maintained."
In this program, Ekalavya Prabhu from America and Gaura Krishna Prabhu from Denmark performed Hare Krishna mantra in a Western style and thus they captivated all the students. During the questions and answers session, their answers to the student's questions were based on the scriptures. Those that participated in this program were completely absorbed in ecstatic trance. And so many students exclaimed that they received a new direction in their lives. A nice color photo by Ajit Deshpande of Pandharpur showing the boys dancing in the kirtan also appeared along with the article. The caption reads: "The students in the temple of Hare Krishna on the bank of Chandrabhaga River are completely merged in ecstasy and forget everything else."[ youth ]