Chakra Announcements

Shiva Ratri Wrap Up

by Caru das

Posted March 15, 2005

Last Saturday evening for our Shiva Ratri celebrations, we at the Utah Krishna temple were stunned by the number of guests. When I was President of Berkeley temple in the 70's we used to attract large crowds to our many cultural events, however, there was not a high percentage of new visitors. One would see the same faces every time. That was nice, of course, but one would hanker to introduce the culture to others as well. Then too some of the perennials had become jaded about Krishna Consciousness and did not want anyone to preach to them.

As two major universities are less than six miles from Spanish Fork (Brigham Young and Utah Valley State College) at least 50 per cent of all attendees are first timers. They are open, wide eyed, and slack jawed. For the preachers it is a welcome change to introduce Krishna Consciousness to a never ending cavalcade of young newcomers.

Ironically, a half an hour before the beginning of the event, a bus load of 20 seniors from a rest home in Eureka (30 miles away) arrived "in order to get the good seats". There are Sankheda easy chairs and sofas in the rear of the temple.

Arrivals flooded in. When I started my power point show on Lord Shiva at 5 pm, our large temple room was 3/4 full. Everybody was eager to hear and learn. The audience was hardly sated even after one hour of narrative and graphics on the 12 ft screen. There was hearty applause as I forced myself to conclude the power point presentation in order to introduce our guest performer, Sri Kesava.

A packed temple room thrilled to her variegated presentation. The first half consisted of the artiste dancing to the music of her very own CD, 'Avatar Sessions.' I found it extraordinarily impressive: that someone should have talent on so many fronts. I noted also that the instrumentation behind her excellent vocals captured the essence of Indian music and incorporated as well some driving Western beats that got people clapping along and moving their feet, even as they were sitting.

During the intermission for Sri Kesava's costume change, we enacted a drama called "Shiva and Parvati." From last year most of the actors were repeating their roles: Jai Krishna as Lord Shiva, Bhakta Jon played King Himavat and the Four headed Lord Brahma, Siddhyartha was Indra and Narada Muni, Divya Drsti played Cupid, or Kamadeva. Only the heroine, Parvati was new. After the departure of Karuna to North Carolina last year , I have had trouble to find anyone with her talent. In this case, we were very lucky that a Nepali student at BYU, Nirnaya Lohani, volunteered. She sparkled in the role. The drama was a big success. The most dramatic moment of the play, when Lord Shiva undisguised Himself before Parvati, elicited a collective gasp and then thunderous applause from the audience.

For the second half of her program Sri Kesava danced to live music sung by a group of our devotees. The final selection involved not only the live music, but Sri Kesava herself singing and leading the audience in a dhoon (repetitive chant), while simultaneously telling the story with Indian classical dance.. Her presentation was fresh, spontaneous, natural, and exciting.

As an indication of her popularity, many parents afterwards requested her to return to give seminars and workshops for their children.

Subsequently, hundreds of guests lined up to offer homage to this greatest of all Vaishnavas by reverentially pouring milk and honey onto the Shiva Linga. Afterward, they took the spooned out caritamrta into their "amrta kupa' (well of nectar): depression in the right hand at the base of the thumb, and sipped it. For pushpanjali (offering of flowers & bilva leaves) the 108 names of Lord Shiva with English translation were projected onto the large screen so all could follow and chant, if so desired. Meanwhile Jai Krishna, Sri Kesava, and Pragna Shah were rocking the temple with 'Hare Krishna' and 'Om Namo Shivaya'.

Many favorable comments were passed by the exiting visitors regarding the dance, drama, food, architecture. We made a lot of new friends and supporters on this day.

KSL TV cameras covered the festival, featuring shots on the evening news of the huge crowd in the temple room, the innovative dance, and long lines of guests waiting to pay for gifts or hot meals of Sri Krishna prasadam.

Best wishes,
Caru das and Vaibhavi