First Ever Moscow Kirtan Mela Inspires Two Thousand
By: Madhava Smullen ISKCON News on Feb. 20, 2015
(Photos by Ilay Boyko)
Moscow’s first ever Kirtan Mela, which ran from Friday January 30 to Sunday February 1 , drew nearly 2,000 devotees from around Russia – and like most ISKCON Moscow events, it was a colorfuly uplifting affair on a grand scale.
The event was organized by Saraswati Dasi after ISKCON guru Bhakti Bringa Govinda Swami, inspired by a “Mantra Yoga” program he attended in Moscow, expressed the desire to participate in more outreach programs there.
As the first day of the Mela fell on Ekadasi, a fortnightly fast day, it incorporated a mainstay of ISKCON Moscow – the all-night Ekadasi kirtan.
Overseen as usual by Russian sannyasi Bhakti Ananta Krishna Goswami, the kirtan took place in ISKCON Moscow’s spacious new temple room in a rented building in Polejayevskaya – where devotees moved after their old temple in Dinamo was demolished in 2013.
th st Nearly 2,000 people filled Forum Hall for the Kirtan Mela's main day
The kirtan began at 5:00pm and went all through the night until eight o’clock in the morning, when it concluded with a Bhagavatam class and devotees breaking their fast.
Highlights of the Ekadasi all-nighter included a unique classical music kirtan by much-loved Russian chanter Aditi Dukhaha Das, who was joined by composer Evgeny Babenko. Called “unusual and wonderful” by fellow kirtaniya Sundara Govinda Das, it featured a grand piano, violins, pre-recorded samples and an Armenian woodwind instrument called the “Duduk.”
Akinchana Krishna Das, one of the core members of Krishna Balarama Mandir’s 24-Hour Kirtan program in Vrindavana, India also chanted, as did Suryanandini Dasi, who tours with B.B. Govinda Swami.
Because the temple’s main Deities of Sri Sri Dayal Nitai Saci Suta were resting during the night, a small altar was erected, upon which sat ISKCON Botanicheskiy’s Deities of Patita Pavana Jagannatha as well as several home Deities. Throughout the night, devotees offered lamps to Them, creating an atmospheric and prayerful mood.
Adding a touch of classical violin to the proceedings
The next day saw the Mela’s main 12-hour kirtan held at the rented Forum Hall in the center of Moscow City from midday till midnight.
The vast rectangular space, framed by wrap-around balconies, was decorated with lights strung from the ceiling like stars in the night sky. Nearly two thousand devotees and members of the public crowded in to watch and sing along with chanters on the hall’s huge stage, which was flanked by altars for Sri Sri Radha Gopinath and Sri Sri Radha Vrajasundara.
First up was professional musician Sundara Govinda Das, who has been holding weekly Harinamas in Moscow for the past five years, along with his wife Nilambara Dasi. Next came Bhakta Ananta, a skilled young mridanga player, singer and graduate of Aditi Dukhaha’s Navarasa kirtan school. He was followed by Thakura Haridas, an enthusiastic brahmachari who runs two of Moscow’s biggest outreach programs, Kirtan Moscow and Mantra Yoga.
The 24 Hour Kirtan’s Akincana Krishna Das then ascended the stage with a group of devotees and began a very “old school” kirtan, chanting while standing up and dancing with only mridanga and kartalas as accompaniment
With its authentic mood, Akincana Krishna Das' 'old school' harinam kirtan was a favorite
The energy in the hall escalated as the group climbed off the stage and plunged into the audience, rousing them with the power of the Holy Names until the whole crowd was jumping and spinning in concentric circles around