Written by Nandan
Evening festivities in the Community Hall…
The display in the community room was not as elaborate as last year but it was pretty and sparkly. There was a table with deities of Krsna and Balaram with a couple of Gopas surrounded by various flowers, stars and foliage. The floor near the deity table was enveloped in green grass-like paper and numerous bees and flowers were hanging from the ceiling. It was sweet and simple but the Vrindavan effect was certainly there.
To be fair, it didn’t matter too much. The community room was heaving as expected and the devotees were in a jubilant mood after all the day’s events, especially the 13 new additions to the Gaudiya Vaishnava Parampara!
After some excellent kirtans to start off the program; there was a great drama by a group of talented ladies. The play was all about the value of association of a pure devotee. It was actually quite a lengthy, sprawling play with many, many characters including Vishnu, Narada Muni and various demigods. The effort that the ladies put into the play was impressive. The makeup, costumes, soundtrack and of course the funny acting! At one point, the ladies had forgotten their lines. But it wasn’t a bad thing; the play was so humorous that even when they forgot their lines, it just contributed to all the fun! As expected, they received a tremendous response from the audience. A joyful presentation indeed!
From a group of budding young actors, to a very distinguished thespian of many years, renowned entertainer and Prabhupada disciple, Parividha Prabhu was in town, giving his association to this year’s Vyasa Puja celebrations! With Prabhu gracing us with his presence it was natural for him to present something for Krsna’s pleasure and our education. This time, it was a slide show of old photos of himself in his younger days with Srila Prabhupada. In the background was a soundtrack of cabaret style music and Parividha would sing beautifully to the music. Technically it was a great performance – Prabhu’s vocal range is awesome and the way he can hold his high vibrato notes is something to behold. In another life, one can easily imagine him as one of those classic Hollywood crooners like Frank Sinatra. But more than the technical aspect was the emotional content. It was a very poignant presentation, and the lyrics were full of candour, hope and at times a sense of pathos.
As Maharaj had said earlier on that day, spiritual life is full of ups and downs. And Parividha Prabhu’s songs really embodied that in a deeply personal way. There was a sense of regret in his songs of not appreciating Srila Prabhupada enough when he was around. Yet at the same time, there was the mood of carrying on despite the setbacks, just carry on going. The songs really served as an example for the young generation to learn from – to avoid the mistakes and regrets of the past… and build a better future.
Maharaj also appreciated Parividha Prabhu’s effort and would refer to his presentation a few times in his subsequent lectures. Maharaj then finished of the evening with a final kirtan that carried on late into the night. Whenever Maharaj does his kirtans, it’s so easy to lose all sense of time and just immerse oneself in the holy name. But this time there was also a faint thought in the back of one’s mind that maybe, maybe this time Maharaj shouldn’t go for it. Better to get one’s health back in full form and then go for it full throttle, right? Even though Maharaj doesn’t like all the constant fuss over his health, still the concern was there. As I’m sure it was in the back of many people’s minds. Anyhow all’s well that ends well and it was a fantastic end to a fantastic day. Afterwards devotees and disciples were clamouring for his association as well as hugging each other like they were all long lost friends. The whole thing was like a reunion of a seriously massive family.
The following is an excerpt from what newly initiated disciple Mandapa Prabhu, had to say about the concluding kirtan:
“Maharaj’s kirtan was sooo nice! I mean it didn’t go straight in, it started off low key. It was a proper slow burner but Maharaj soon pumped it up and it just started getting more and more ecstatic. He really has this incredible ability to carry everyone along on a wave of pure joy. Just the very sound of his voice allows me to focus on the mantra and remember Krsna. I strongly feel in my heart that he has a very, very close connection to Krsna. The whole experience made me feel such bliss! Tonight’s kirtan was also very special for me for another personal reason; it was my first kirtan after getting initiated. So it’s an experience I will always remember for the rest of my life.”
HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai!