Written by Bhakta Matthew
From the very start, Villa Vrindavan, in the region of Tuscany, on the outskirts of Florence was a wonderful backdrop for a weekend of glorifying the Lord through the chanting of His holy names (11-12 July). With peacocks roaming the grounds and not a cloud in the sky, we eagerly awaited the start of the festival.
Devotees young and old, gathered in the blazing Italian sunshine at the Machiavellian castle to sing and dance and to partake of the sweet nectar of Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan movement. The beautiful spacious temple room rocked and swayed through kirtan after kirtan performed by some of the greatest kirtaniyas in the world. Included in this eclectic mix of musicians were Madhava, Ojasvi, Manu, Cintamani, Radha London Isvara and of course HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, who sung his heart out and had most of the temple room on its feet dancing in complete ecstasy.
The kirtans continued on well into the wee hours of the morning, and so, as the night shift crew were on their way to bed, the devotees started to assemble for mangala arati, so in this way there was an almost continual presence for their Lordships Radha Vraja Sundara, Gaura Nitai and Jagganath, Baladev, Subhadara. Then, after guru puja, the devotees were able to taste more sweetness as HH Kadamba Kanana Swami gave two very nice Srimad Bhagavatam classes. There was also a seminar on vaisnava songs given by HH Gaura Vani Swami which was very well received by the devotees.
The stunning gardens and views from the villa made it a nice spot for devotees to relax, make new friends and to honour the exquisitely prepared prasadam, and yes, there was even pizza and pasta on offer. So the weekend passed blissfully into Monday and as the majority of the devotees departed for home, serenaded by ecstatic kirtans from local temple devotees, those that remained were treated to a very informal and intimate kirtan session with Maharaj on the grass in the sunshine.
There was also an initiation ceremony for our newest godsister, Chandra Koti Devi Dasi. She was formerly called Claudia, and is an expert cook. Devotees were also thrilled to be able to take darshan of the new baby calf in the Goshala. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, filled with Vaikuntha vibrations at the amazing Villa Vrindavan in Italy, which I heard described on more than one occasion as being like a Heavenly Planet.
The recordings and photos are courtesy of Bhakta Matthew and Bhaktin April who are from Karuna Bhavan in Scotland.
Visit flickr to see the full slide-show.