New Vrindaban’s 24 Hour Kirtan to Transport Partipants to Vrindavana Dhama


By Madhava Smullen

The ninth annual 24 Hour Kirtan festival in New Vrindaban, West Virginia is set to give North American participants the experience of the 24 Hour Kirtan that ns 365 days a year in the original Vrindavana Dhama, India without having to travel thousands of miles.

Around 600 devotees from all over the U.S. and Canada are expected to converge in the beautiful rural community that founder Srila Prabhupada called “a new place of pilgrimage for you Western devotees.” During a 1972 visit he also commented, “This Vrindaban, that Vrindavan, no difference.”

The devotee participants will be joined by two groups of students, one from Cleveland State University and one from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, attending for the first time.

Leading up to the festival, Europe-based spiritual teacher Kadamba Kanana Swami will give three morning lectures at Sri Sri Radha-Vrindabanchandra’s temple from Thursday June 18th to Saturday June 20th on the importance of chanting the Holy Name.

There will also be an inauguration kirtan with Kadamba Kanana Swami, Agnideva Das and other senior kirtaniyas on Friday evening from 7 to 10pm at Srila Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold.


The 24 Hour Kirtan festival proper will then run from 11am on Saturday June 20th to 11am on Sunday June 21st in the temple, which will be decorated with maha-mantra banners, harinama chaddars and lamps.

Participants will sit in a semi-circle facing the Deities. Each of the long list of lead chanters will lead for around one hour, and each will bring their own flavor to an event packed full of variety.

Kadamba Kanana Swami is known for his fired up, rocking kirtans. Agnideva Das – who has been one of the world’s most popular chanters since the 1970s and is now based in Trinidad – steals devotees’ hearts with his classic, soulful style. And Brazilian kirtaniya Amala Kirtan Das, now based in Austin, Texas, brings blissful ragas and astonishing virtuousity on the harmonium.

Meanwhile Ananta Govinda and Acyuta Gopi from New York raise goosebumps with their soul folk kirtan; Mayapuri band member Krishna Kishor injects youthful energy into proceedings; and Gaura Mani Dasi from the Vrindavana, India-based band the Vrajadhus dovetails Bollywood songs in Krishna’s service to create new Hare Krishna tunes that take off like wildfire.

Local New Vrindaban chanters will also lead kirtan, including Rupanuga Das, Abhay Das, Bhaktin Autumn, Ananda Vidya Das, and Lilasuka Dasi.

And youth and children will get a chance too – the boys from ISKCON Alachua’s Summer Trip, aged 12 to 15, will chant for 45 minutes, while a group of children aged 10 and under will chant for half an hour.

“It’s really important for them to have that opportunity to sing at a festival,” says Shri-Ram Poddar, 18, who is organizing the schedule for the festival. “They’ll love it, and it’s just a really good growing experience for them too.”

Shri-Ram is speaking from experience. He first attended the New Vrindaban 24 Hour Kirtan in 2011 when he was 14 and uninterested in kirtan, staying up throughout the night as an experiment. He calls it “the first devotee festival I really enjoyed” and afterwards became passionate about kirtan. Now he’s helping to organize both New Vrindaban’s summer and fall 24 Hour Kirtans, and is inspired to manage other Krishna conscious events too.

While many other kirtan festivals follow the two 12-hour days format, Shri Ram loves New Vrindaban’s because it remains a straight 24-hour event nine years in. This features gets participants intensely focused on the Holy Name, and combined with New Vrindaban’s Brijabasi mood it truly recreates the original Vrindavana 24-Hour Kirtan.

The Vrindavana mood will be particularly evident during the night time hours, when devotees like Amala Harinama and Govinda Das, who both spent time as part of the 24 Hour Kirtan Mandali in Vrindavana under Aindra Das, will chant.

“Govinda Prabhu has been there since at least the early 2000s, and was with Aindra Prabhu for at least ten years, as one of his main mridanga players,” says Shri-Ram. “His kirtan really has Aindra’s mood.”

Most devotees will attend only select parts of the kirtan, taking rest in between in the comfortable motel-style rooms at New Vrindaban’s Palace Lodge (now booked up), in local hotels in Wheeling and Moundsville, or in tents on the ISKCON New Vrindaban grounds.

Every year, however, some brave souls are so inspired that they manage to make it through the entire 24 hours.

The prasadam helps – breakfast on Saturday and Sunday will include kichari, granola, yoghurt, chutney, and a drink. For lunch on Saturday there’ll be fancy rice, dahl, two subjis, macaroni, pakoras, puris, chutney, sweet rice, and mango lassi.

The primetime evening kirtan slots from 6pm to 10 or 11pm on Saturday will be the most packed and energetic, as will Agnideva’s grand finale on Sunday morning, followed by a delicious Sunday Feast at 12:30pm.

Afterwards, participants are usually left hungry for more – more kirtan! “People always say they feel very enlivened and recharged,” says Vrindavana Das, who organizes the festival with assistant coordinator Gauranga Prasad Das. “They always look forward to coming back again.”

And New Vrindaban has what they’re looking for. A fall 24 Hour Kirtan is coming up on October 31st and November 1st, during the sacred month of Kartik – which, of course is one of Vrindavana, India’s most famous festivals.

With a more sweet, mellow mood, devotees will get to offer candles to New Vrindaban’s beautiful Deities, and once again get the Vrindavana Dhama experience without having to travel to India.

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