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Hare Krishnas Hold Peace Festival

by Ime Ola, Lagos, Nigeria Daily Sun

Posted November 17, 2005

Saturday, October 8 was indeed a day of colours for members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as they celebrated the first annual International Peace Festival in Lagos. Devotees from different parts of the world -- including India, Ghana, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroun and Nigeria -- attended the festival, which kicked off at the Palmgrove Estate gate, Ikorodu road.

As early as 8:00 a.m hundreds of joyful and excited devotees and invited guests had converged on Palmgrove Estate entrance for the takeoff of the event.

Later, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Praveen Verma, formally declared the festival open by sweeping the road in front of a beautifully decorated chariot, which bore the symbols of peace. Clad in an array of colourful Hare Krishna attires, devotees both young and old made a particularly inspiring picture of one big family as they pulled the 18-foot-high chariot and marched to the National Stadium.

Thousands of passers-by and onlookers knew that something special was happening on that day as they swayed to music from the famous Gauranga Fuji band and Boys Brigade band, which eased the stress of the three-kilometre long journey. Banners proclaiming "Peace in Naija," "Stop corruption," "Stop religious violence," "Stop ethnic violence" and "Be your brother's keeper" were visibly on display throughout the three-hour procession.

Speaking on the significance of the event, a devotee, Canakya das, said: "It is an auspicious occasion because it is a special day. We can invoke the mercy of the Lord for auspiciousness to reign in the society. Most often, we forget that we are not the proprietors of the gift of nature but we try to become the lords of our true nature and consequently we suffer. An event like this reminds us that there is a supreme Lord of the universe which all of us are accountable to." According to him, the event was done in order to bring humanity to a sane way of living. He added that wherever it was done regularly, it has a way of bringing about a revolution in the lives of "misdirected civilization."

Also speaking, Srivas das, regional director of Hare Krishna movement in Ghana, explained why Ghanaians had to come to Nigeria for the event. "It is a very important event for the whole universe. When we celebrated last year, people came from Nigeria to support us, so it is natural that when they are celebrating, we also come to honour them. We arrived the previous day and the reception has been warm. There was no dull moment as the Gauranga Jazz band thrilled the audience with a variety of spiritually uplifting songs. Music star Stella Monye also gave an emotional rendition of Hare Krishna song, which attracted a loud applause from the audience.

The highlight was the launch of the 2006 Hare Krishna Almanac by managing director of Evans Medical Plc with 25,000 Nairas. He commended the organisers of the event for bringing succour to needy Lagosians with their Food for Life relief programmes and empowerment schemes. In his vote of thanks, Bolaji Rosiji, executive director of the Gauranga Foundation, said: "The event signaled the beginning of a revolution in Nigeria, as we see different religious and ethnic nationalities coming together and working joyfully together."

Perhaps, the star attraction of the day was the choreographed acrobatic display by two teenage Krishna devotees from Ghana called Hari and K.K. The audience was held spell bound as they swayed their bodies to the tunes of the Gauranga Jazz band. Also, the devotees, their friends and invited guests relished sumptuous vegetarian dishes in an atmosphere of love.

Reposted from the Lagos Daily Sun