Detroit 3 Day Harinama at Jazz Fest 2014
By Deva Madhava Das
After trying our luck a few times in different spots within the limits of the 35th annual Detroit Jazz festival, we were finally forced by security (read ‘lead by the benevolent will of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu) to sit just outside the festival, at the corner of Woodward and Jefferson Ave. (Read ‘The busiest intersection in the whole city.’)
The sun was beating down on the spot so direct the word ‘hot’ might have been applicable. The cold hardy Detroit devotees were a little apprehensive, but once they were reminded that in 2 months we’d all be begging Sri Sri Radha Kunjabihari to send even a few moments of such sun…. we all settled down and began the yajna.
Every 45 seconds, as the traffic lights changed, droves of 100-200 people would walk by or stop directly in front of the Harinama. Sankirtan devotees know passionate spots like that usually means very few people would go against the crowd to stop, or stay longer than the light… but because these were jazz fans we always had our own attentive crowd. That corner we were relegated to turned out to be the pivot for the whole festival… anyone who attended was sure to walk by, which means that along with free jazz they were freed from lifetimes of sinful activity by virtue of the dedicated devotees who were also passing out lemonade Prasada and Srila Prabhuapda’s books to augment the 3 day nama-sankirtan yajna.
Without fail, and this time was no exception, we are greeted by folks who remember when ‘you guys were everywhere!’ Only a slight exaggeration… the Detroit temple like many others had 12-14 hour sankirtan days daily with 70+ devotees taking part until the mid 90’s. One centrally located department store called Hudsons, which has since been demolished, was a sure fire spot to see devotees chanting no matter the day or night.
Today’s Detroit Harinama devotees are grateful to be following in the footsteps of those glorious and dedicated souls, and pray for the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and all the Vaisnava’s that our meager efforts may play some part in letting everyone feel the supreme love for the Supreme Person in this life.
Deva Madhava das