Chakra Announcements

Attracting Westerners Through Festivals

by Sandamini devi dasi (Tucson, Arizona)
Photographs © 2010 by James F. Palka

Posted April 9, 2010

Happy guests watching the stage performances

East Indians are our natural allies. They visit our temples and participate in all the functions, grateful to experience a small piece of their own culture. They are generous and devotional, and lend validity to our temples. In short, they make ideal congregational members.

But did Srila Prabhupada want us to stop there? I think the answer is clearly no. We need to do more to reach out to westerners. We should not become complacent, content in merely meeting our overhead each month. Tapo-divyam ("divine austerities") means going out and preaching Krishna consciousness to those who did not grow up with this culture and who are not conversant with the Vedic literatures. We need to push ourselves out the doors of the temples to find local people to bring back for an experience they will not have out in the material world.

'Flam Chen' fire dancers

On Saturday, March 27, we held our Rama-navami Festival, dubbed "Ram Fest," to get the attention of ordinary folks who aren’t familiar with the pastimes of the Lord.

Distributing Srila Prabhupada's books

Conditioned souls flocked to the event to receive Lord Ramachandra’s mercy. Through music, dance, drama and Prasad, there was not a soul in the crowd who was not attracted to some aspect of the festivities.

Bhutani refugees singing Ram bhajans on stage

Please don’t neglect most of the local population in our cities to target only one. Widen your circle, expand your entertainment, have lots of kids' activities, advertise in various and diverse ways, and go door to door inviting your neighbors.

The auspicious moon rising as gusts enter the temple

You will see the ratio change at your events and temple functions. The enthusiasm will be evident, your temples will be filled with devotees, books will be distributed, and Srila Prabhupada's desire will gradually be fulfilled.