Travelling east, Kadamba Kanana Maharaja made his way from Amsterdam to Düsseldorf (30 August). He did an evening program at the house of Sudama Prabhu, who is a recent disciple of his. The same night, he travelled to Dresden where he stayed-over at Tota Gopinatha Prabhu’s place and gave the morning’s Srimad Bhagavatam class. Then on Friday (31 August), he finally moved onto Leipzig for a day of rest before the start of this year’s Kirtana Mela.
The Kirtana Mela is a grand event that was hosted by HH Sacinandana Maharaja for the first time in 2011 in Limbach-Oberfrohna, near the town of Chemnitz in Germany. This year, it was also held at the same venue. The concept of Kirtana Mela was to have a week of 12-hour kirtanas daily, with the finale being a Ratha Yatra festival in a nearby town of Leipzig. To fulfil this purpose, great kirtaneers flew in from all over the world namely, HH Lokanatha Maharaja, HH Bhakti Bringa Govinda Maharaja, HH Bhakti Vaibhava Maharaja, HG Krsna Ksetra Prabhu, HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaja and HG Madhava Prabhu. HH Janananda Goswami and HH Candramauli Maharaja also participated by increasing the joy of all the devotees as they led the dancing. Devotees attending this event travelled from far and wide; and with a total of 600 guests present at the Mela, it can be considered a great success!
Kadamba Kanana Maharaja, who had a kirtana slot every day, demonstrated his versatility by singing a variety of splendid tunes. On Thursday afternoon (6 September), he sang an old, mellow tune of his that most devotees considered new as they never heard it before. In this way, he covered the spectrum from real KKS rock ‘n roll to refined classics.
To inspire the devotees during the festival, every morning a class was given. When it was his turn to speak, Kadamba Kanana Maharaja encouraged devotees to participate in the whole Kirtana Mela, including the Ratha Yatra festival. He compared the Mela to a big feast with the Ratha Yatra as the sweet: “You wouldn’t just take the whole feast and skip the sweet, would you?!”
On Thursday, Kadamba Kanana Maharaja and Sacinandana Maharaja were invited to visit a nearby village where a new Hare Krsna centre was purchased. The centre is actually a hostelry with several bungalows and an enormous main building. This was formerly used for school classes and other holiday groups. The centre is well situated, central to three of Germany’s bigger cities, just within a hundred kilometres of each. After a full tour of the complex, both the Swamis were taken to a nearby well, to experience a “water treatment” according to the principles of the healer, Sebastian Kneipp.
Each day of the Mela was full of inspiring bhajanas and moments of great inspiration, but it was especially noticeable over the last two days. On Thursday night, Lokanatha Maharaja stirred up the crowd after which Bhakti Bringa Govinda Maharaja led the final kirtana. At this point, the scheduled end of the day, devotees went mad!! Practically everyone was dancing in transcendental ecstasy. When Maharaja attempted to end the kirtana, everyone spontaneously began shouting “Gouranga, Nityananda!” and got Maharaja to continue for a further thirty minutes. Cushions were thrown around and devotees were practically dancing on the roof. All our dear senior devotees joined in the joyful dancing with raised arms. Maharaja ended his kirtana by explaining that in order to reach the lotus-feet of Radha and Krsna, we have to beg Lord Nityananda for His mercy and with these words, he made devotees sing at the top of their lungs “Nitai! Nitai!”
On Friday, the roles were reversed as Lokanatha Maharaja led a final kirtana at full steam, once again driving the crowd insanely blissful. Also on that day, Madhava Prabhu initiated a new tune, for which he was given a two hour slot. With his meditative style of kirtana, he added a unique flavour to the day’s proceedings.
A new feature at this year’s Kirtana Mela was a “yurt” that was erected, where all night bhajana took place. A meditative mood was created around a camp fire, as mainly younger devotees sang. Sometimes kirtaneers like Sacinandana Maharaja and Madhava Prabhu visited. However, the star of these sessions was Ojasvi Prabhu from Sarajevo, Bosnia who led amazing Aindra-style bhajanas, being fully absorbed in the nectarean-ocean of the Holy Name.
The sweet peak of the festival was the Ratha Yatra in Leipzig, on Saturday (8 September). Kadamba Kanana Maharaja first took the lead in the procession followed by Lokanatha Maharaja and then Sacinandana Maharaja. The greatness of the procession is hard to describe but it can surely be called “out-of-this-world”, “unbelievable” or as devotees would say “far-out”!
Many participants commented that it was the best Ratha Yatra they have ever experienced. It was joyful, full of dancing, wild chanting and pedestrians were genuinely impressed as many guests visited the festival site later. The site was situated in the middle of the city, on the main market place and therefore naturally attracted lots of visitors. The program consisted of Bharat Natyam dances, a truly East-German play and rocking bhajanas; and therefore provided a very appropriate grand finale to the week.
On Sunday, Kadamba Kanana Swami held an initiation ceremony in Leipzig temple. Considering their presence to be very auspicious, he glorified two disciples of Srila Prabhupada [Kratu Prabhu and Traidas Prabhu] and asked them to speak something on the occasion. Then Maharaja himself lectured, stressing the significance and gravity of initiation. Three devotees received first initiation with the following beautiful names: Upananda Dasa, Malini Devi Dasi and Gita Govinda Devi Dasi; and two devotees received second initiation.
We are aware, that we have included a lot of pictures in this slide show but please take a moment to relish it as it is definitely worth it! If you cannot view it below, please visit flickr!