Chanters Trade Sleep for Inspiration at New Vrindavan 24 Hour Kirtan Festival

Rhythmic recitation of Sanskrit prayers and the ceremonial smashing of camphor-laden coconuts – a ritualistic metaphor for the chasing away of negative energy – inaugurated a festival dedicated to the congregational chanting of Hare Krishna at New Vrindaban, ISKCON’s rural community and retreat center in West Virginia, on Saturday, August 18. The festival, billed as New Vrindaban’s First Annual 24-hour Kirtan Festival, was organized by Gopal Dasa, a second-generation devotee and veteran of the famous Krishna Balarama Kirtan Mandali in Vrindavana, India. Hundreds of devotees and guests poured in to New Vrindavan from all over the United States, and in a few instances from around the world, to be part of the historic gathering.

“The holy name just goes so deep when you give Him the chance to,” opined festival participant Amul Sutaria, a college student from New Jersey. “We all came together to make a sacrifice for the weekend, to forget everything in the past and future and just focus on the holy name. Usually we don’t make so much sacrifice, but this weekend you could see people just go to sleep for like 2 or 3 hours and then get right back into the kirtan.”