Enthusiasm seemed to float on the air—along with the yellow clay dust of West Virginia—as devotees arrived by the car- and busload for a three-day weekend of Krishna conscious education, enlightenment, and good times.
The Festival of Inspiration made its annual appearance for the sixth time at ISKCON's New Vrindaban farm community, May 11-13.
Even before the official start of the festival, inspiration was already in evidence. The kirtan was cooking, as the father-and-son team of Bhadra and Vishvambar led a joyful group in chanting the holy names. Devotees separated by miles and years embraced as each new wave arrived in the parking lot. Last minute preparations for the presenters further fueled the merry chaos.
On Friday the festival officially kicked off with a Bhagavatam lecture (S.B. 1.2.17) by Bada Hari dasa. Througout the day attendees crisscrossed the campus to workshops on topics ranging fron Deity worship by Nrsimha Kavaca das, to Kripamaya dasa's "Overcoming Stage Fright."
Talks on various topics were also offered by His Holiness Romapada Swami, His Holiness Hanumat Presak Swami, His Holiness Danavir Goswami, His Holiness Trivikrama Swami, and His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Goswami.
Dravida dasa of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International spoke on "Responsible Editing," offering a free book on the topic to attendees.
Partha-sarathi dasa, in his renunciate's saffron, kept his audience spellbound, sharing his philosophy and experience of preaching Krishna consciousness while deployed as a staff seargeant in the U.S. Army.
"The best part is the association with all the wonderful Vaisnavas," said Radhika devi dasi, who presented a seminar on "Bucolic Braja in Vaisnava Art, Literature, and Philosophy."
Friday's highlights included a talk by Graham Schweig, PhD, "Why a New Translation of Bhagavad-Gita?" introducing his rendition of the text, recently released by Harper Collins.
Saturday offered another full day of seminars, workshops and media presentations such as ITV's "Following Srila Prabhupada" DVD series.
With the setting of the sun on Friday and Saturday nights, the festive mood intensified. Professional and amateur entertainers kept the crowd laughing, cheering and chanting, with Bada Hari dasa leading a full kirtana band on Friday evening. Ekendra dasa performed original songs on Saturday evening, followed by Yadunatha dasa, who wrote and directed several comedy skits and Gauravani das, fronting his Krishna conscious rock band, the Fews.
Visakha devi dasi, one of Srila Prabhupada's early female disciples, spoke on the transitory nature of human ties and the importance of motherhood as that which most resembles love of God during Srimad Bhagavatam class on Sunday, in recognition of Mother's Day. The festival closed with a memorial ceremony for Mukta Kesha dasa, who recently passed away. His Holiness Jayapataka Swami was in attendance.
Festival organizers Malati dasi, Ananda Tirtha dasa, and Radha Sundari dasi estimated about 500 attendees for this year's festival.[ festival-of-inspiration ] [ iskcon ] [ new-vrindavana ]