For the last six years Australians have suffered the worst drought in a thousand years, say leading agriculturalists. As a result the price of food has nearly doubled in some areas. Water conservation schemes are mandated by local governments across the predominantly arid continent. Declared by politicians to be a national crisis, the situation is a re-occurring theme in the media and in citizens’ minds.
Is it just coincidence that one of the longest uninterrupted streaks of wet weather broke at the same time Indradyumna Swami and his traveling spiritual festival team arrived on Australian shores?
Billed as ‘Le Carnaval Spirituel’ this vivid stage performance brings forth the timeless spiritual wisdom of ancient India’s Vedic art and culture; culminating in a rousing full audience participation kirtana (call and response chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra). The European troupe of performing artists present eastern spirituality fused with a twist of the contemporary. Le Carnaval Spirituel, established in France in 1979, has for many years entertained audiences in Europe’s largest music festival “Woodstock” which annually attracts crowds in excess of 250,000 people.
How receptive are Australians to not only a foreign demonstration of exotica but to the spiritual message the performance conveys?
“We find that everywhere we go the response is often overwhelming”, says Shanti Parayan Dasa, “More than a few folks have expressed gratitude for our attempt to serve what they claim is a need for genuine spirituality.”
Chandrashekar Acarya Dasa, MC of the event, responded, “When we are promoting the upcoming show in the local areas, we are encouraged by how receptively people watch our street performances. Many are eager to take an invitation to the evening show.”
Booked in central venues such as Melbourne Town Hall and Brisbane City Hall the troop has performed to capacity crowds who’ve braved the torrential rains to experience a taste of Vedic culture.
The air tickets, visas, transportation and promotions were sponsored by Jaya Sri Dasi from Sydney. When asked what inspired her to contribute in such a big way she responded, “Often, when we go out in the streets chanting in Australia, it’s the older generations who recognize us. Folks in their 40’s and 50’s are the ones smiling and waving. It seems the younger generation hardly knows who we are. This program is very good at connecting with the youth and gives them something positive to associate us with. If they see the daytime street performance they can come along to the full evening program.”
The full performance features a yoga demonstration, Vedic martial arts, Bharat Natyam dancing and several other art forms in a Vedic theme. Towards the end there is a short talk on Bhagavad-gita, given by Indradyumna Swami, followed by a kirtana.
I went to the program held at the Gold Coast venue and was impressed. I sat in the balcony and when I looked down during the kirtana there were more than a few people dancing. I thought that the program was an effective and entertaining mix of indirect and direct exposure to Vedic concepts. Indradyumna Swami’s class was clear, inviting and quoted mostly from Bhagavad-gita and Srila Prabhupada’s purports – nothing watered down. The audience seemed very receptive as evidenced by the large number of books sold after the show.