Chakra Announcements

'Old Wine in New Bottles' - Rethinking Festivals in Tucson

by Sandamini devi

Posted November 3, 2008

Lots of time, laksmi and endeavor go into planning and executing a festival. And the Bhagavad Gita tells us that we can't be attached to the results. We simply try our best to please the Lord with our services and the rest is up to Him. But why not think outside the box and creatively try to bring more people to Krishna Consciousness through our many holidays?

Taking a cue from Caru and Vaibhavi in Utah and the tremendous success they're having, we started to envision and realize that it is possible to attract large numbers of westerners to our temples through various festivals. Granted it's a smaller scale than in Utah, but if we can do it in a small town with a handful of devotees, certainly it's possible in temples with more facility.

It starts with a desire to realize Srila Prabhupada's wish to attract westerners to Krsna consciousness through cultural programs. Next comes the strategic plan and it's execution which includes proper advertising and a good, diverse line up of dance, drama and music. Top it off with plenty of good prasada, ecstatic kirtans and a separate kid's entertainment area. Then, you've got a winning combination that's irresistible to the pious masses.

This past festival of Diwali/Govardhana Puja was one of our most successful programs to date. We advertised it six weeks in advance with radio announcements, local listings on web sites, newsletters and posters- using a focus on the cultural aspect rather than the religious. Gradually we've gotten our own 16 x 24 outdoor stage with 150 chairs and after each festival we try to add something to our array of preaching tools. For example, we recently got 14 banners to display Srila Prabhupada's achievements. Our entertainment included acrobatic martial artists, fire dancers and Indian classical dancers. And an original drama with pre-recorded sound ensures a smooth and clear rendering of the pastime.

People may come initially for the fire dance but inevitably get engulfed in the spiritual atmosphere and are soon circumambulating Govardhana Hill, dancing and later honoring prasada. We had about 350 people, mostly from local western families, who attended the four hour event. And everyone left with a taste of real spiritual life.

For more inspiration on how to take your festivals up a notch or two, visit Caru in Spanish Fork and catch a bit of his enthusiasm for spreading the Holy Name. Or check out our next event - George Harrison Memorial Festival on Nov. 30th. To share ideas and thoughts on this subject you can write me at

Pictures by Jim Palka