Posted March 9, 2004
The capacity of our temple in Spanish Fork is about 500, upstairs and downstairs. For Last Saturday's Gaura Purnima/Holi Festival we were way over that. Though straining at the seams, more and more people seemed to be able to squeeze in until the entire crowd of many hundreds burst outside for the Holi celebrations: the huge bonfire, kirtan and throwing of the colors.
From 4 pm we showed the film "Golden Avatar" on the 12 foot high screen, and followed with a gala abhishek of Lord Chaitanya. While quests lined up to bathe Lord Chaitanya, we showed on the same screen a Quick Time slide show of Lord Chaitanya's life with images and captions at 16 second intervals, including many classic, sublime paintings and concluding with the eight verses of the Sikshastakam. There was sit down kirtan going on throughout the bathing ceremony and by the end everyone was chanting Hare Krishna with great gusto.
After a dynamic Bharat Natyam dance presentation by Shyamala Moorthy of Los Angeles, the chanting of Hare Krishna resumed outside around the two story high bonfire lit for the occasion. Six hundred zip lock bags of non stain, dry colors were sold within ten minutes for $1.00 each. We later decided we could have sold 800-1000 bags if we had
Our experience has been with the kirtan that, at first, while guests are busy applying the colors on each other not many join, but within a half hour or so after the colors are exhausted, more and more people turn to the kirtan and the dancing. It just grows and grows until there are multiple lines and circles of 50-60 or more going round and round, back and forth.
Bankim Roy Prabhu lead the bulk of the kirtan. The wireless mike and outside speakers gave him mobility, but after the first hour there was no need for him to move around. The people were like multicolored tides of an ocean flowing back and forth, to and fro, and their singing was akin to the roar of waves.
We installed Bankim on a high bench and like a rock icon he lead the thunderous chanting and whipped the crowd up more and more. Chaitanya means the "life force of the living entity exhibited in eternity" We amply saw the vibrant life force of hundreds of unlimitedly energetic young people engaged hour after hour in the mellow of sankirtan rasa. One could see that with these young people the sankirtan was indeed giving them a taste of the nectar for which they have always been hankering, bringing some of them back from the brink of despair, and giving them a new lease on life entirely.
When the kirtan had finally wound down and the fire was embers, Bankim could speak only in a croak, our older bones were sore, our faces and hair stiffened with the plastered colors, and even the teenagers had spent every drop of energy. Before returning to their homes, many blissfully exhausted people told the devotees, "It was the best day of my life!"