The verdict was unanimous. You could hear it all around: "This is the best festival I've ever been to!" "These kirtans are so ecstatic that I can't believe they're happening!" "I've never felt so enlivened in my whole life!" "I've been dancing for hours and hours, and I don't want to stop!"
It was a mass revelation that harinama sankirtan is the safest and most exciting place to be in the world for the hundreds of devotees who descended on New Vrindaban Dham in West Virginia for the 2008 24-Hour Kirtan Festival, recently held on June 21-22, 2008.
Joining the assembled guests from all over the world were such exalted and musical souls as Radhanath Swami, Sivarama Swami, Niranjana Swami, Bada Hari Dasa, Madhava Dasa, and a whole assortment of some of ISKCON's finest second-generation musical talent, including the traveling Krishna Culture Youth Bus Tour.
The Festival began at 8:30 am on the morning of the 21st with a ceremony featuring the chanting of auspicious mantras and the smashing of coconuts, and from then on, the temple room of Sri-Sri Radha-Vrindaban Chandra resounded fully with the Holy Name. The beautiful and meditative mood morphed into a complete and unfettered display of ecstatic symptoms by the evening, as devotees grooved and moved to the transcendental rhythms provided expertly by Madhava Prabhu and Radhanath Swami.
As the evening skies filled with thunder and lightning, an unexpected feature of the Festival took hold as the electricity went out. This proved to be no hindrance to the festivities, and the candle-lit atmosphere of the temple room only added to the wonderful mood, as Sivarama Swami shared his unique and powerful style of kirtan.
The intimate gathering continued in the temple room well into the early morning, and as the sun rose, devotees, many of whom had been awake for the entire Festival, gathered in the temple courtyard for the final hours, which was highlighted again by the sublime kirtans of Madhava Prabhu and Radhanath Swami, who also concluded the Festival with an inspiring class in the sunshine about the redemptive power of chanting the Holy Names.
This redemptive power no doubt soaked the air around New Vrindaban and the hearts of all those who came, danced, and heard. For those who were not able to personally attend this life-changing experience, full audio recordings, along with selected video, of the Festival, can be downloaded at www.gauravani.com