This 12 months’s Festival of the Holy Name, held over Thanksgiving weekend (November 24-25, 2023) in Alachua, Florida, was one other religious success, welcoming tons of of devotees to the two-day kirtan occasion.
The annual gathering is “totally organized and backed by second-generation devotees; the competition attracts each member of our native temple neighborhood in addition to associates and congregation members from throughout Florida and past,” mentioned Mukhya Devi Dasi, Temple President at ISKCON’s New Raman Reti temple in Alachua.
The competition is a cooperative effort by volunteers who serve collectively to facilitate a blissful kirtan expertise for the members of the neighborhood in addition to guests from out of city. Their mission is to “honor the reward of kirtan, and aspire to create an environment of joyful camaraderie in experiencing kirtan, performing seva (service), and honoring prasada collectively.”
“The complete occasion relies on what Srila Prabhupada describes as the essential ideas of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s motion: chanting, dancing, and consuming Krishna-prasada,” mentioned Govinda Dasa, one of many volunteers.
Nonstop kirtan started at 10 am and prolonged till 10 or 11 pm, all beneath a big, superbly adorned tent the place Sri Sri Nitai Gauracandra presided.
Kirtan leaders included devotees of all ages and genders, from senior devotees to younger youngsters. All attendees got here collectively to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in joyful deal with the holy title. The occasion additionally included an limitless stream of scrumptious prasad cooked and served by devotees in an outside kitchen—served constantly from midday to eight pm.
Opportunities for seva (service) are an essential aspect of the competition. The shut proximity of the outside kitchen tent to the kirtan tent made it a full of life and enjoyable place for attendees to volunteer – washing pots, chopping greens, cooking preparations, mixing juice, and serving prasada. It was common to see the entire serve-out crew a mixture of youngsters and youths. A youngsters’s day camp occupied some youngsters in numerous crafts, actions, and face portray. Parents volunteer in shifts to facilitate the child’s camp.
A primary-time customer from India who occurred to be visiting household within the space mentioned, “It was one of the best competition of my life.” Another customer mentioned he “flew 33 hours from the world over to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a household that I barely know however which seems like my actual household.” Multiple devotees described their expertise as “probably the most linked kirtan I’ve ever skilled.”
To study extra in regards to the Festival of the Holy Name, go to their website, observe them on Facebook, and luxuriate in movies from this 12 months’s competition and former years’ festivals on their YouTube channel.