Krishna Camp At Burning Man
Posted October 9, 2007
This year's Krishna Camp at Burning Man was a great success!
40 team members from all across the country came to participate.
Last year our camp featured a 30 foot tall temple where very special deities of Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra resided. This year we brought a full scale 35 foot tall wooden Ratha-Yatra Chariot just like from India!
The first night of the event was a total eclipse of the moon coinciding with the sacred day Balarama Purnima. At two in the morning during the middle of the eclipse, to everyone's surprise someone climbed atop the Burning Man and set it on fire! The entire figure burned down and the culprit was apprehended being charged with Arson. The calamity made headline news all over the world.
An influential friend of ours, Rajan Zed, had requested a press release about our camp for his upcoming prayer invocation at the California State Senate. He had formerly become known for facing opposition due to his performing a Hindu invocation prayer at the U.S. Senate in Washington D.C. Through his contacts we received coverage in over 30 international newspapers and website articles, being cited alongside the news of the premature burning of the Man as being a sober contrast to the wild mayhem of the rest of the event.
It took a number of days of hard labor to unload and assemble the two-ton wooden Ratha-Yatra Chariot. Members of our camp came over the first few days of the event. Once we had a substantial crew of devotees our camp began operating at full swing.
Our temple space was filled with visitors who came to get tasty vegetarian treats we had advertised in the Burning Man activities booklet and came away having their faces beautifully painted with gopi-dots, sitting and talking with us, participating in the constant kirtan going on, getting spiritual books, accepting holy Ganges water on their heads, and leaving with warm fuzzies about Krsna Camp. We certainly had warm fuzzies about them :)
Giriraja Gopal Das was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) at the event on the influence of oriental culture at the event, and we made many friends with interested people throughout the event.
Sura Prabhu from Los Angeles performed Kirtan with his Temple Bhajan Band at many other camps, and even performed a traditional vedic wedding ceremony.
Caitanya Bhagavan performed elaborate and powerful Sudarsana Nrsimha sacred fire ceremonies in the evenings, surrounded by ghee lamps, followed by classical Indian fusion dance by Sri Kesava and kirtan by the Brahmacari monks from 26 2nd Ave in NYC.
The day of the Ratha Yatra parade began with a huge dust storm, whitening out the sky, then followed by rain! There had only been 2 days of rain the entire year, and we were in much anxiety that it chose this day to rain again, expecting mud sticking everywhere and ruining everything. But only after a little rain the skies cleared and revealed a massive double rainbow that arched over the entire sky, bringing everyone out of their tents, hooping and hollering, cheering the momentous occasion.
We pulled the Rath Cart in the evening, decorating it with strings of colored lights and illuminating the canopy from within like a giant chinese lantern. The cart could be seen from across the entire Playa, a mile away.
Due to some mechanical difficulties we shortened our route to go directly from our camp to the Burning Man effigy in the center of the event. A good number of people helped us pull the cart and many stood in wonder as it drove by, enchanted by the transcendental presence of Lord Jagannatha riding atop His all-auspicious Chariot.
As the evening drew on it became late and we needed to return the Deities to camp as the cart was too large and heavy to maneuver back with the few people who remained. We weren't allowed to drive our own vehicles through the event unless they were registered as Art-Cars ahead of time, and the rangers there couldn't assist in providing transport, so we at last approached the nearest art car and requested their help to shuttle the deities from the cart to our camp. They happily obliged.
When they pulled up we were considering how to bring the Deities down from the cart when the driver backed up to the front of the cart and activated a hidden lift, which raised the entire back of the vehicle up to the top platform of the Chariot! We were all amazed at how perfect it was! Nowhere else in the event could we have found such a perfect fit. The Pujaris carried the Deities onto the car and held them in their laps for the ride back to camp. We came to expect miracles.
A few devotees stayed overnight to guard the cart, and throughout the night people came by, climbed aboard the chariot and marveled at it's magnificent transcendental presence. All throughout the next day devotees distributed literature and spoke to the many passerby who approached the chariot having many nice conversations. It was a very magical and potent experience.
That evening was the culmination of the event, the burning of the Man. Everyone at the event, approximately 50,000 people, assembled all sporting their most elaborate costumes and vehicles. The outskirts of the crowd were surrounded by all the art-cars, covered in flashing lights, spouting fire, and blaring heavy music beats. Around the Burning Man effigy hundreds of fire dancers spun and twirled flaming batons, ropes, swords, and other props. We pulled and maneuvered our chariot to a good vantage point and held kirtan as the ceremony proceeded into the burning of the Man. There was a barrage of fireworks and then the effigy was burned to the ground emitting huge flames.
Devotees served out hot prasadam Chai and tasty Pakoras to everyone who passed by the Chariot. As the crowd diminished, having mostly proceeded to the burning of a massive, wooden oil barracks structure surrounded by giant metal statues of worshipers. We distributed Prasadam to those huddled around the burning pile remaining of the Burning Man.
Kirtan continued late into the night and the Deities were returned to Krishna Camp via a large bicycle-rickshaw-like-vehicle we had borrowed.
The last couple of days were spent cleaning up and packing our camp, disassembling the Chariot and loading it into our rental truck. It was a great austerity fighting the dust storms and pushing our tired bodies but by Lord Jagannatha's mercy we completed the task with our core crew of devotees.
On Krishna's birthday (Janmastami), we drove out of Burning Man to the home of Anavadyangi Mataji who lives very close to the event on a 5 acre ranch which she has so kindly let us use for storage of all of our festival equipment and the Ratha-Yatra Chariot. She hosted us there for a week as we cleaned up and unloaded everything, recuperating from the event.
By the mercy of the Vaisnavas and Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra we were able to make real connections with hundreds and thousands of open-hearted people sharing Srila Prabhupada's mercy in the form of devotee association, kirtan, prasadam, transcendental books, sacred fire ceremonies, pulling the Lord's chariot, having their faces painted, taking pictures and having a wonderful experience of Krsna Consciousness.
Many devotees have been inspired to come next year including all the brahmacaris from San Diego as well as many more from New York, San Jose, and across the country. Indradyumna Swami and Vrakesvara Pandit Prabhu have expressed their enthusiasm to come, as well as Radhanath Swami. We would be most honored and eager to have your presence as well!
We are humbly trying to please the devotees of Lord Krishna and provide innovative and influential new avenues for developing profound experiences of Krishna Consciousness in North America and throughout the world.
Kindly bless us that we can go on serving in this way and gradually increase the quality and quantity of this amazing and adventurous service to the world.
- from your servants at Krishna Camp
Nitai, Mandali, Rasikananda, Gadadhara, Madhavendra, Caitanya Bhagavan, Mukunda Charan, Punyatma, Arthur, Sri, Shakuntala, Amit, Dayal Gauranga, Ananda Vidya, Korel, Roberto, Alicia, Svarupa, Che, Indra, Bhimasena, Roy, Radhe, Mark, Mary Anne, Hari Narayana, Bhakta Avatar, Sura, Giriaja Gopal, Arjuna Parker, Jason, Sanatana, Lalita, Krsna Das and many more!
Some of the 30 international publications we appeared in were:
Napa Valley Register Click Here
Hindustan Times Click Here
Asian Tribune Click Here
News Post India www.newspostindia.com/report-12711
Tribune India Click Here