Well… first of 2009, at least! (maybe)
This last Saturday we celebrated our annual Krishna Festival in Pandavas Paradise with the residents of the nearby town, Alto Paraíso. We also had some 18 guests drive up from Brasilia to sleep there, so we could spend Sunday together in a mini-retreat.
Alto Paraíso is a very special city in Brasil, known as the mystical capital of the country! So, when we have a festival, we get a great variety of people. We get hippies, seekers, New Agers and UFOlogists. We get babies, children, adults and the old alike! We get people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from as well as the rich people holidaying in the area. It’s quite an experience!
And they are all brought together by the sound of the Hare Krishna mantra, the Krishna-katha and the prasada!
We started out with an hour and a half of bhajan, playing some more Western melodies (such as Krishna Das). Gradually, as we played, the temple filled up with guests.
Then I spoke some words on the meaning of Janmastami and read some verses from the Srimad Bhagavatam, Chapters 1 and 2, on the importante of Krishna and Krishna-katha. We had a book table (actually a mat!) and my little speech was focused on getting them to buy the Gita and our Srimad Bhagavatam audio books (we have the whole first Canto, translation and purports, and the entire Krisna Book in MP3).
Then my wife lead a thundering kirtan. This is their favorite part.
People dance and run around in ecstasy. They jump and chant in wild abandon!
Aftewards we served prasada. They love our prasada. (And we love serving it!)
The next day, our 18 guests had a sweet mangala aratik (a little later than normal!). Then we chanted japa. We had some newcomers who learned to chant japa for the first time.
This was followed by a 90 minute Srimad Bhagavatam class on verses 1.2.6-8, where I again emphasized the importance of reading and studying the Gita and the Bhagavatam and the importante of bhakti above all other pursuits in life.
After a hearty breakfast we went on a little 90 mintue hike to our waterfalls, through the hills of Pandavas Paradise.
We finished off the mini-retreat with an opulent lunch and everyone went home very happy.
You can see lots more pictures from the festival and mini-retreat here.