Chakra Announcements

Taste the Nectar of Monthly Sankirtan Festivals

by Akruranatha dasa

Posted July 7, 2007

Want to increase the enthusiasm and spirit of your congregation and catapult book distribution scores to new highs? Success is guaranteed with the Monthly Sankirtan Festival program pioneered by the intrepid, ever blissful book distributor Vaisesika Dasa.

Here in ISKCON of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California), our MSF program has been steadily growing for over two years, and is truly the life of all the devotees. One weekend per month, we all come together on Friday evening to kick off the MSF with maha nagar sankirtan in Palo Alto (home of Stanford University). Then on Saturday and Sunday we split up into teams for distributing books in different legal spots (or door to door) throughout the metropolitan area. Each MSF has a theme, usually selected from an event on that month's Vaisnava calendar, and we pledge to achieve realistic but difficult goals.

This month's festival, on July 13th through 15th, is in honor of Sacidananda Bhaktivinode Thakur, whose holy disappearance day will be observed on July 15th. Our goals are to distribute at least 2001 books, to collect at least 4001 laxmi points, and to have at least 64 devotees go out on book distribution over the weekend.

On June 24th, His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami inspired us with a short visit in which he led us in chanting and discussing "The Song of the Broker (Marketplace of the Holy Name)" by Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Last week some devotees decorated the temple with a large framed photograph of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, in front of which they placed a bookshelf brimming with books for the devotees to distribute. The effect is a powerful incentive to serve Bhaktivinode's desire by liberally passing out the books, making those who get them most fortunate. The details of the MSF were announced at the Sunday Feast, and post cards were sent out to our entire mailing list, advertising the festival.

Our book distributors are all householders living outside the temple, holding down demanding jobs throughout the week. Nevertheless, without any full time ashram devotees, just holding one festival per month has caused our temple to climb dramatically in the Sankirtan Newsletter charts. During these festivals we have brought blissful new devotees into our congregation, and have given the existing congregation a renewed sense of purpose, direction and real bhakti.

Some devotees who cannot personally go out support the festival in other ways, by donating the cost of cases of books, or by preparing lunches for the distributors and cookies for prasadam distribution. But the enthusiasm for going out personally is infectious, and thus we hope to reach our goal this month of having 64 devotees in the field, even if only for a short time. (Sometimes devotees come out just to observe, but get swept up in the enthusiasm of active preaching)

As usual, the whole temple is buzzing with anticipation, humming to ourselves, "nadia godrume nityananda mahajan. . . jiver doya krsna nama sarva dharma sar" We are all meditating on how Bhaktivinode Thakur sent books to the west more than 100 years ago and thus pushed to fulfill Lord Caitanya's prediction that the Hare Krishna maha mantra would be broadcast in all towns and villages of the world.