After 2 days of harinams on the rainy streets of Melbourne, the devotees, the public and the actors all gathered together for an evening of Eastern culture at St. Kilda City Hall, few hours ago. The building in itself was impressive and it was my first trip there. The building was supported by huge Victorian styled pillars with a lovely garden in the front. The drive to the main entrance resembled the path from the main gate to the door as seen in Indian 5-Star hotels. At the doors, were lovely mataji’s in deep blue sarees distributing the evening agenda.
Many people were walking in not knowing what to expect. Some looked nervous. Others looked curious. And there were others who were excited and they were the devotees. The hall was big and could accommodate about 600. Chairs were laid out neatly and people began to plant themselves where they could. It was like school. The eager-beavers right in the front, the semi-interested in the middle and the “just-checking-this-out” crowd was somewhere at the back. Parents with little kids were in that vicinity as well. As the rain subsided outside and the vegetarian cuisine aroma increased inside, people relaxed a little and began to wait for the 7:30 pm start. And just before 7:30pm, it started.
The evening would showcase the following :
- A bhajan
- Manipur Drummers
- Bharatanatyam dance
- The Warrior
- A Bollywood dance
- Return of the warrior
- A Spiritual talk
- Shyam Dance
- Team Kirtan
Those are my titles above. The program actually had different names for each show…but you get the drift, don’t you? Since a picture speaks a thousand words, I will let some photos I took do the talking.
After the performance of the warrior, it was time for THE GITA. In this session, actors portrayed the essence of the Holy Book Bhagavad Gita. This is the audience’s first interaction with spiritual philosophy for the evening.
“The GITA” show was very much appreciated by the audience. The applause, cheers and a few whistles reached the stage, much to the delight of the actors who waved back to the crowd and disappeared into their green rooms.
The drummers are surely the crowd favorites. The sounds of the drum, the ethic wear, the yells thrown at the crowd by the drummers, the leaps and the rhythm were all perfect to get the Australian crowd to sit and up take full notice.
Once the high voltage performances were done and the performers began to get ready for their final act, His Holiness Indradyumna Swami walked over to the centre of the stage. All watched. Devotees were thrilled in their hearts. Calmly, he took centre stage and adjusted the microphones. A single bright light from above shone brilliantly on his face. The stage was now truly set.
Over the next 50 minutes or so, His Holiness gave a superb commentary on the Gita to the lay man seated. Even devotees – seniors and juniors listened as if it was their first time. And we wouldn’t want it any other way. He explained the importance of utilizing the human form of life, the importance of non-violence towards all creatures, understanding the body as matter, the hovering area of the soul in the body, how it was “ok” to take in such rich wisdom from an Eastern land even if it was foreign, “like Pizza…an Italian dish so prevalent in Australia…if it tastes good, then you will have it here too“. People understood. Sure they did. I saw them nodding. I saw them take deep breaths as it was beginning to make sense to them. He continued to talk about how people in general are mesmerized by science and how humans are out of balance. People were in agreement. The silence said it all. Even the noisy kids from the background seemed to be quiet. He invited the crowd to get a copy and read it. Thanking the crowd and collecting people’s love, he too walked away. Surely, the entire sampradaya was in the room. We couldn’t see them but the intensity of the talk made us feel their presence.
Sri Krishna, Srimati Radharani, the Gopis as well as a spirit soul caught in the deep sadness of separation from the Divine Couple took centre stage. Through a beautiful English song, they all danced their way into Krishna’s lovely arms. He, too had been waiting and longing for such associations. His smile said it all.
The much awaited kirtan now began to steal everyone’s heart again. It was so beautiful to see the Australian public tap their feet to the ground, a few others catch the mantra right and a few to my right had their eyes closed and resting a smile on their lips, began to move from side to side. The cleansing had begun. The journey has started for all there. There was appreciation all around. Already, 2 hours had passed and I don’t think anyone knew about it.
The kirtan reached a soft climax and the people knew it was coming to an end. Everyone began to clap and cheer again. Yes, it was worth it to attend after all, they must have wondered. The rain didn’t seem to hamper anyone’s enthusiasm. The performers and the audience looked after each other very well. One party gave, the other took. It was a perfect evening I thought. The room looked almost full when the lights came on. “Thank you for being such a wonderful and an attentive crowd!”, swami exclaimed over the microphone. And with that the show came to an end.
In the morning Bhagavatam class, His Holiness Indradyumna Swami maharaj made a very nice statement. He told us, “The difference between material people and devotees is this – materialists perceive the world through their intelligence. Whereas the devotees perceive the world through the intelligence of their spiritual masters“.
Tonight, through his spiritual master’s order to preach boldly and armed with all their devotion, sacrifices and love, His Holiness had helped the Melbourne public perceive the world too. It was all balancing out.
Hope you enjoyed this early morning blog post. I do this only once a year. Its 1:40am and I am happily going to bed. If any of you are planning to watch the show, below is the info. Go, I say !
Sunday : 06th December, St. Kilda Town Hall
Friday: 4th December, Fitzroy Town Hall, 201 Napier St, Fitzroy
Saturday : 5th December, Fitzroy Town Hall
Wednesday, 9th December, Wyndham Leisure and Events Centre, 80 Derrimut Road, Hoppers Crossing
Show Time : 7:30pm
Vegetarian food : from 6pm onwards.