Saturday, February 23, 2008
North American ISKCON Youth Conference???
400 Sari and Kurta clad youth all chanting the holy names of Krishna. With arms upraised with surcharged shouts of 'Haribol!!!', these youth beaconed the decent of Hari Nam Prabhu. Who are they? Reincarnations of great yogis, mystics, and bhaktas? Who is to say? But one thing we do know is that for these youth it was their first time doing this at least in this lifetime.
Professor Hill principle of Stonewall Elementary School had called me a week ago. He asked me if I could arrange a Vedic music performance and dance performance at his elementary school on Friday. He also asked if this could be done for free. I replied that I would be glad to help him out. I also mentioned that I may have some difficulty finding some Bharatnatyam dancers for most the ones I know charge some money. He mentioned that his concern was that they had also a good number of deaf students, so my reply was that we would make it interactive and fun.
This call and his second call took place while I was in the hospital tending to my wife who just gave birth and was recovering. Little overwhelmed with lack of sleep and lots of duties I did not notice that his email never made it to my inbox. I had several other letters from teachers, but none from his school. This was a problem for I could not remember his name, the name of his school, or where it was even. Krishna, being the source of memory(BG15.15 & 7.8) had mercy and therefore, not luckily but mercifully, my memory did not totally fail me. He received my contact info from a devotee who teaches sitar lessons. The devotee was also requested by him to perform and in response the devotee told him that he does not do live performances, he simply teaches. That devotee kindly gave the professor my number and in my time of trouble he also kindly looked through his caller ID to find the number that the principle called from.
The next challenge was our kirtan party was only two devotees, Bhakta Richie
and myself, due to this last minute arrangement. In a great search we became Harinam Hunters, strapped on our ecstasy detecting goggles, looking for the prospective devotees . Finally when we had given up and began driving towards the freeway we passed by Megharupa's house
who is usually accompanied by Kumari Devi dasi. Kartals in hand they both
enthusiastically agreed and hoped in car on the way Stonewall Elementary.
When we arrived we were pleasurably surprised to see all the kids wonderful dressed in Indian attire. Replete with elegant saris, punjabi suits, kurtas, and yogi pants.
All the teachers we as well dressed in eternal fashion.
We started with a bhajan with harmonium, introducing ourselves and the instruments. We asked the students to guess how long mrdangas have been in use, some said 60 years, some said 200, one soul said 1000. They were surprised when we told them that the mrdanga has been in use for at least 5000 years. We then asked them how many name are there for God in the Indian culture and again with great surprise we told them that the number was no less than 10,000. We then moved on to standing kirtan. We then asked if there were any brave souls in crowd who would like to participate in the dancing. About 40 kids ran up on stage to become the sankirtan party, including the deaf kids, which left a remaining 160 watching in the crowd.
We started with a dance lesson in Swami step and then call and response chanting. This can be seen in the video below. We then moved on to the Swami jump which they thoroughly enjoyed. After two sessions which make up a total of 400 participants we were then given a tour of their school. We were amazed with the decorations. They have been studying India for a week and had lined not just the hallways but the entire school with decorations of India heritage and culture.
We thoroughly enjoyed this event hope that you also enjoy this post as well.
Your humble servants,
Nityananda Chandra Das
also please see the 2 min video