Louisville Centre Keeps It Simple
Posted August 25, 2011
Our fledgling sankirtan centre in Louisville, Kentucky is now performing public programs of outreach and harinama sankirtan. Our first harinama happened this August in the alternative district of town, with some singing of the Holy Names, distributing Srila Prabhupada's books, and passing out fresh sliced watermelon prasadam. It was challenging doing it "all by my lonesome," but I managed.
A big success happened when in late July I spoke with the manager of a local yoga/healing arts studio and inquired about doing kirtan programs. She was very enthusiastic, and happily accepted the offer for a weekly, Sunday program. The Shine Studio is an excellent space, very bright and airy, spacious and quiet, not being next to any major roads — a very conducive space for this kind of thing.
So on Sunday, August 7, I prepared for the noon program we had scheduled by cooking a four-course feast, loading all the supplies needed, praying profusely and heading to the yoga studio. I got everything set up, lit some incense, tuned a guitar and looked over my notes while people started to flow in.
Eight people were there, including my brother Kent, visiting from Los Angeles. The others were women of various ages and backgrounds.
We sat in a big circle, and I began speaking a bit about kirtan and Bhakti and how to engage in kirtan. I passed out flyers showing the mantras we were to chant.
The kirtan started out very soft with Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, and then the maha-mantra. The soft voices singing in the kirtan sounded to me like heavenly angels; it was really so harmonious and light. We sang various Vaishnava mantras and changed melodies occasionally, and they went through it well. I felt very focused and was savoring being there in the kirtan. It lasted about 40 minutes, and I didn't want to stop, but had to stick to a program, so ended it softly.
After that I spoke about Bhakti and Vaishnava culture for some time, just keeping it very basic and simple. The guests asked a lot of questions, which is always nice. Then we closed with a brief but potent singing of Hare Krishna.
After that I busted out loads of prasadam, and everyone ate to their full satisfaction. I heard a lot of "whoa", "wow" and "how did you...?" It's Krishna's mercy, every time.
Afterwards, two parishioners from the local Unity church were very enthusiastic about wanting to help me hold programs at their church. I'd like to host some special ISKCON speakers for that. If you'd like to participate as a guest speaker, please let me know.
I very much liked putting on this program. I would love to have a harmonium to enhance the kirtans, but for now it's my old guitar and kartals. I'm reaching out to those interested in helping our efforts here in Louisville to please consider making a generous donation. And, if you are a fired-up brahmacari preacher and/or kirtaniya looking to relocate, please email me.
I'm scheduling more programs like this around Louisville; doors are opening for new areas, and things are rolling. I'm only one person with very little money or books but with time and enthusiasm to do this work. If you can donate cases of books, laxsmi for bhoga, books, supplies or your time — or simply your well wishes — please contact me at sankirtanlouisville -at- gmail.com
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