103. Le Carnaval Spirituel, 2009

It’s 12:22 am now….and I have just sat down to  recollect the time, I had with “Le Carnaval Spirituel”, few hours ago. What am I doing? I should be going to sleep and do this, first thing on a Sunday morning. Nope. I just felt that it couldn’t wait. I had to pour them out to you all….I have so much energy left. And who wouldn’t after an exciting show like tonight’s?

When I arrived at the temple this morning, I could see the members of Le Carnaval Spirituel all over the temple. And you could feel the buzz. Volunteers and members were running here and there. Some were going up the stairs in a hurry, others came doming down with some mission accomplished. Some were going through checklists, others seem to be deciding who should go shopping for certain items. As I stood outside the temple president’s door watching the many activities sprout, suddenly the door behind me opens. It’s His Holiness Indradyumna Swami !

It took a few seconds for things to get in order in my head, before I could bring myself to pay my obeisances. On the staircase. It wasn’t easy. And if anyone saw it, it was a bit clownish. Won’t go too much into it. Anyway, the team was getting ready to hit the streets for a harinam (singing the holy name in the streets). And I tell you what, they looked pretty motivated and raring to get out there, on a beautiful 23 degree Celsius day in Melbourne. They had a job to do. Get the public to Fitzroy.

2 hours later, as I stepped back onto the staircase, after my morning meeting with Anirudha prabhu (Temple President), Stoka prabhu approached me and enquired if I could be put into some use. I was delighted. Here is my chance to do some service.

I had the cool task of folding up the evening program schedule. Easy. 500 of them !

Folding the flyers for the eveing show...

Folding the flyers for the evening show...

A modern style of pressing the folded brochures...

A modern style of pressing the folded brochures...

I enjoyed the service. I met this lady from Sydney, Romi who was helping out with the carnival. She was my partner in the folding up of the above flyers. After we exchanged some greetings, I thought it would be a great idea to catch up on my iPod, the Srimad Bhagavatam lecturers of Srila Prabhupad. The day is 2nd February1975 at Caracas, Venezuela. Srila Prabhupad has just cracked a joke and there is a thunderous laughter in the background. And he continued with his explanation of the intricate ways of the spiritual and material world. Marvellous!

Once I finished with all the folding and packing, it was time to get to the venue. I took a tram, accompanied by Bhakta Hari from South Africa and Vishnu prabhu from Fiji. The entire trip, we spoke about the new digital cameras, the movie cameras, photography etc.  After a nice 20 minute or so ride, we reached, Fitzroy. At a town hall here, we would witness the 2009 Le Carnaval Spirituel.

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (pic from a google search)

Fitzroy is a place with attitude. If you didn’t have any, you would get down here to watch others who have some. It has an edgy mix of alternative, artistic and trendy elements. Basically, home to Melbourne’s Bohemian culture. I spent sometime window shopping the many restaurants by the roadside and watching the owners get ready for a grand night of their own.

Fitzroy Town Hall – A civic building from 1873 would host our event.

The impressive Town Hall

The impressive Town Hall

Melbourne, sometimes like Kolkata, throws at you, these old, Victorian and grand white buildings. And what impresses me are those huge pillars. Whenever I see it, I can’t help wonder, if Lord Narasimha would pounce from one of those structures. This is an old habit of thinking by the way. When I was a kid, my uncle took me to watch “Das Avatar”, in our one and only village movie theatre, by the side of a rice field. The movie, educated the villagers about the ten glorious incarnations of Lord Vishnu. People would throw flowers onto the movie screen when each avatar came on. Anyways, as a very young child, I was struck with wonder and fear when I saw Lord Narasimha come out of those pillars !!!

A pic from the ancient past

The stage - a pic from the ancient past

A pic of the stage today

A pic of the stage today

I thought the venue and area was an excellent choice. It was big, clean, plenty of parking spaces around, a police station as our neighbour and tons of cafe’s for our audience to go to afterwards, on a late Saturday night. The Town Hall stage was large and from the rehearsals, I could gather that the acoustics were pretty good.

Very soon, devotees began to appear at the venue to help set up the place. A group started setting up the prasadam area, I ventured to help someone set up the seats, occasionally (really…) glancing towards the stage, to gain a peak into the on-going rehearsals. They were working hard.

Sri Krsna Chandra Das arranging my prasadam plate

Sri Krsna Chandra Das arranging my prasadam plate

Evening starts with delicious food!

Evening starts with delicious food!

Once the prasadam hall was set up, I am not ashamed to say this, but I joined the queue pretty early on. And it was great to see, people enjoy the Hare Krishna food once again. There were some fans who would explain our food contents to their wary friend, telling them it was very good and tasty and vegetarian etc. I went for a A$10 feast plate that came with rice, curry, kofta balls and cherry halva.

Ready for another book marathon!

Ready for another book marathon!

When I was talking to this devotee, a lady walks up to the table and says, “Hi…How are you? I came for the last night show and I loved it ! And I was wondering how I could run away with you guys…and be spiritual and all?”. To which the devotee said, “Yes…that’s good…Hmmm…can you come and see us at the end of the program and I am sure we can see how to help you out…”

Stoka Prabhu - always smiling

Stoka Prabhu - always smiling

Lovela mataji - Handing over the evening schedule

Lovela mataji - Handing over the evening schedule

His Holiness Indradyumna Swami

His Holiness Indradyumna Swami

I found a good spot by the side aisle and settled down for the show to start. I was impressed by the number of people walking in, of many ethnicity, of varied ages, of all sizes. They were all there. Some had come to know about the information through a flyer handed on the streets, others through a press ad in the local community newspapers  and some even through Facebook. All avenues were used by the organizers to get to the public. They simply had to be there. Because they had every intention to put up a good show and they wanted the audience to take it all in. And by the time, the first act was on, the room was packed. And we had seating arrangements for 500-odd people. And we could see people standing at the back as well. Woohoo !!

The Masters of Ceremonies

The Master's of Ceremonies

Prahlad Das and Chandrashekar Das were the MC’s for the evening. And as a conclusion here, they did a great job. Prahlad Das explained the spiritual side of each performance, whereas Chandrashekar Das had a little story along with a one-liner or two.

Prahlad Das !!

Prahlad Das !!

I could not believe it was him. After all these years ! I walked up to him and said…
Hari Bol Prabhu….I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. When I started on the path of Krishna Consciousness many years ago, owing to the distance of my home from the temple, I could not associate with devotees much or visit the temple. But, your CD, “Harer Nama” was the greatest asset I had along with the Bhagavad Gita. Every single day for 2 years, after I lit the lamp at the altar, I would put on your CD and sing along with it. It was one of the foundation that has kept me on the path strongly. So, thank you very very much. I am so glad to have seen you today!

He was shocked I think. And he very nicely said, “That’s very sweet and kind of you of you to tell me this. I am very happy. Thank you for sharing this today with me…..I wish you all the very best….

Melodius bhajans...I mean very melodius...

Melodius bhajans...I mean very melodius...

The show started with some very nice bhajans which I saw some people tapping their foot to. Although, people might not have understood the language, it didn’t seem to matter, as they were enjoying it very much.

00pm - Manipur drummers

Manipur drummers

People loved these guys. Especially, when they threw their turbans into the crowd, just with a strong wave of their heads. I personally feel that the Manipuris, with their “Drums of Hope”,  set the tempo for the evening. They had the energy and the rhythm. The audience could see the trio enjoy themselves on stage and that enthusiasm, very quickly transferred on to the crowd.

15pm - Bharat Natyam

Bharat Natyam

“Dance of Gratitude”, a classical dance was performed very beautifully by the Moscow Rasika Dance Group. Chandra das, in his introduction of the group to the audience, mentioned how this dance didn’t belong to earth but was actually imported from the higher planets within the universe. That got everyone excited. And they remained in that state for the entire dance.

25pm - Martial arts

Martial arts

This guy was just too quick for my camera ! Not to mention that he was so good with those long sticks, it was very hard to take your eyes of his performance. So much so, that I forgot to click enough snaps of him. This artistic display of traditional eastern martial arts was done by Dina Dayal. I remember watching him last year as well, with great awe and wonder. Like I said, it was the same this year too. It seems, he had learned the ancient technique of protection from a remote school in South India. I didn’t get to ask him, but I bet its somewhere in Kerala.

The twin yogis

The twin yogis

“Melbournians” love their coffee and yoga. And here, they got plenty of yoga from the twin brothers, who performed a very careful and majestic yoga postures to the delight of the crowd. There was nice music in the background, which had Indian and western music fusion. I think, it was the music of Karunesh, a German music composer, specializing in world fusion and new age music.

Arjuna questions Krishna with great humility

Arjuna questions Krishna with great humility

Do you duty, says Krishna

"Do your duty", says Krishna

A nice pantomime of the Bhagavad Gita was held by a large cast of devotees from the troupe. In this sequence, they covered the background of the Kurusketra war, the workings of the senses, the desires of the mind, Arjuna’s confusion at the battle field, reasons behind Krishna’s descent, Arjuna beholding the universal form and then being satisfied with the Krishna form. I was surprised that they could put such a complicated set of events and philosophy, so very easily to the people. Once again, people just sat there with mouths wide open. They were understanding. You could feel that in the room.

Back again with bigger drums - Manipur drummers

Back again with bigger drums - Manipur drummers

The crowd favourites returned with another around of high voltage performance. They ran in circles, jumped up and down, screamed and used the entire length of the vast stage with so much ease and maintaining their drum beats all the time. WoW !

Indian fusion

Indian fusion

The Rasika Dance Group put up a nice dance number from an Indian movie, much to the delighted of the crowd. In fact, when I had walked into the venue earlier, this is what I witnessed in the rehearsals. And I was waiting for this piece, because they danced so well….well, like the Indian movie stars. They also quickly climbed up to be crowd favourites.

Presenting Bhakti Yoga

Presenting Bhakti Yoga

What a fantastic lecture ! Spot on ! His Holiness Indradyumna Swami gave one of the best talks, I have ever heard, as an introduction to spirituality, Bhagavad Gita, soul and relevance of Bhakti yoga. It just flowed in a well arranged manner, point by point, step by step, clearly intended for the mass of people to understand this great and tough philosophy, in an easy language. He used very nice analogies and examples to explain to people about the soul, the ever changing material body as well as how and why the soul accepts another body.Throughout the lecture, he encouraged people to accept this ancient Indian wisdom for their benefit and requested them, once and for all, to understand the difference of animal and human life. People got it. I am sure many did. The silence was heavy. As devotees, we were so happy. The audience loved every minute of it. They might have had to wait millions of births perhaps, for this chance.

Krishna takes centre stage...as usual

Krishna takes centre stage...as usual

Coming to the end of the program, the Carnavale Dance Troupe performed, “The Shyam Dance”, a Rajasthani village folk dance of the soul’s search for spiritual fulfillment. Very colorful and soul stirring music.

Its kirtaaaaaaaaaaan time !!!

It's kirtaaaaaaaaaaan time !!!

And the grand finale – Kirtan by His Holiness Indradyumna Swami along with his entire cast. It was so melodious, that my ears were glued to every word of the Maha Mantra. I even forgot to sing back with the rest of the crowd. Just sat on the floor, back against the aged Victorian hall wall, turned my camera off and listened.

(

The End 😦

And then that was it. Very quickly as it had started, it finished. When people got of their chairs, they were shocked that they had already spent a good 2 hrs, which felt something like 30 mins. That’s how the show was arranged. There were no gaps between each performance. They were all connected very closely that there was hardly a time when the audience just sat and starred at the blank stage while the next cast got ready. Not here. In fact, people only slowly rose from their chairs once it ended. They hoped that perhaps, the Manipur drummers, might spring back at them with even larger drums and take them into a wild yet spiritual journey.

And the Manipur Drummers - in plain cloths

The drummers..minus the costumes..

We want that Gita...now!

"We want that Gita...now!

Questions for the traveling preacher

Questions for the traveling preacher

They will be back !!

They will be back !!

Our society is an event driven society. A society that cherishes entertainment. And Le Carnaval Spirituel aimed, intended and did just that. It was an evening of Lights, Colors and Sound. The senses of the audience were actively involved in collecting such precious information which they will keep with them for the rest of their lives. These events also allows the crowd to develop a very important connection with us – Friendship. And that’s because we looked after them again – with great food and a great memorable evening. They will remember this. We will know in days, weeks, months or perhaps even years, before we realize the impact this evening of high voltage performance have had on people.

This event also gave a precious chance for 2 devotees, who put their heart and soul, blood and sweat to make this event as successful as possible. And that’s Sri Krishna Chandra prabhu and Stoka prabhu. You will see their pics in the above collection. I am sure there were others as well who did a lot of work. But these 2 were the centre of all decisions and planning. For the last 4 months, these guys spoke, thought, slept and wrote about this festival. This was the only thing they were concerned about. It was their number 1 priority. And tonight after the show, as they continued with their service of cleaning and packing up, one could see their happiness of having a job well executed and perhaps, even more the chance to have pleased their guru maharaj. Well done guys ! And a huge THANK YOU from all of us !

That’s it !!! Good morning. It’s 3:59 am!!! Gotta go. And oh…sorry for the dark pics…I need a better camera.

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5 thoughts on “103. Le Carnaval Spirituel, 2009

  1. Thank you so much for your nice comments on our festival last night. I’m glad that you liked it so much. And thank you for the services you rendered as well. It was a success because so many devotees worked so hard to make it so. That is the real meaning of samkirtan. “Sam” mean complete. And “kirtan” means glorification of the Lord. To the two together mean, “the complete glorification of the Lord.” That can only happen when the devotees work cooperatively together, as so many did last night.

    Our troupe loves Melbourne. The people are so favorable due to all the preaching that has gone on here for so many years. Alot of credit must go to Aniruddha prabhu. We are now making plans to come back to Australia for a full 4 months next year.

    BTW: you are a very good writer. Perhaps you can help us next year with the media etc. for advertising the festivals.

    Oh, and one last thing: I received your article on my “google alerts.” But I couldn’t find your name on your Blog. Please tell me who you are 🙂

    Again a very well-written analysis of our show. Thank you.

    With affectionate regards,
    Indradyumna Swami
    Carnaval Spirituel

    Reply
    • Hare Krishna !! Please accept my humble obeisances ! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

      I had no idea whatsoever when I wrote this article, that I would have a surprise visit from your end. “Google Alerts ki Jay ! What an honor ! Thank you so much and I am pleased that I had a chance to please you. Staying up all night till the wee hours of the morning, to write the post seems even more worthy now!

      With regards to the service, I rendered…it wasn’t much compared to so many others who cooked the prasadam, transported the furnitures and cooking utensils, worked on the design of the marketing collaterals, the cheerful door attendees at the venues, the transport team and all those who distributed flyers in so many streets in the area, in the hot hot sun, day after day…all for the pleasure of vaishnavas and the to-be vaishnavas. I wish I had only contributed a lot more than what I did. You are right. So many devotees put their efforts and patience, to ensure that the project was well executed to the best of their abilities.

      In my wildest dreams, I never thought I could write ! It was a common understanding that talking wasn’t much of an issue with me. But, writing, no way ! I always thought a few of my friends and some devotees at the temple might have an inclination, every now and then to see what I was writing with regards to my personal Krishna Consciousness progress. But as of today, there are readers from all over the world going through it. A bit scary at times. All I did was write what I did, saw and felt. I hope that I am in a position to continue this exercise regularly. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for complimenting this new habit of mine.

      I am lost for words that you feel, I am qualified to assist you in your mission. I am more than happy to utilize my few skills and talents in anyway that you think is fit. This would be a great way for me to help you and your wonderful disciples, to push on with the spiritual revitalization of our world.

      Melbourne is a great place. Infact, the whole land of Australia is. The people are warm, genuine and friendly. In their short history, they have had a good chance to see the mistakes of many countries around them as well as their own. Now, they are more than happy to re-look at the ways of their life style, open to suggestions and willing to put the “hard yakka” if needed. Because of their quick acceptance of other ethnic cultures and their current attraction towards anything Indian, I feel the time is even more ripe to continue with sowing the wonderful, unadulterated and exciting life of Krishna Consciousness. They have made the Hare Krishnas a part of their landscape. Now, they need to make themselves a part of this movement.

      The Melbourne Temple, under the able guidance of Aniruddha prabhu (who also happens to be an expert in anything computers, electronics etc) have done a wonderful job in building up a nice team of wonderful devotees who are so connected to the mission. His experience in all matters will continue to play an important part in the development of the many young devotees here.

      I am thrilled to note that you will be planning to spend more time in Melbourne ! This is a great boon for all of us and we eagerly await 2010 ! Perhaps, by then I would have moved closer to the temple.

      In terms of my personal introduction, my name is Manoj Kumar, based in a regional town, a little bit away from the city of Melbourne. My sincere efforts to belong to the society germinated only 2.5 years ago, although I received the “Bhagavad Gita As It is” about 10 years ago !! A long story on why the delay. Will save that for another post, I suppose 🙂

      Dear maharaj, once again, my heart felt thanks for your comments. I wish you all the very best for your next show. Le Carnaval Spirituel has created a standard of excellence in the hearts of the Melbourne people with the last 2 shows this year. And I am certain that our wonderful audience are also awaiting the year of 2010 for your return.

      Please do not hesitate to contact me for any service that I may be able to render. Wishing you a very Happy New Year ahead.

      Your servant,
      manoj

      Reply
  2. Dear Manoj Prabhu

    Pl accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    I never knew all along that you were such a good writer and you are putting your talent to the best use. Srila Prabhupada has immediately reciprocated with you by sending you a direct communication from one of his most intimate and trusted representatives HH Indradyumna Swami.

    Though I could not attend the Le Carnival Spriritual this year, your blog was an effective virtual walkthrough. Thanks for the same.

    I beleive you must try and insert this into our BTG magazine. so its read by the wider devotee community. Pl seek advice from HG Aniruddha Prabhu and if possible Maharaj and proceed accordingly.

    Hope we see your transcripts more often in future.

    Hari Bol
    Your useless servant
    Jagannath Ram das
    Melbourne

    Reply
  3. Dear Jagannath prabhu,
    Hare Krishna ! Thank you very much for the appreciation and motivation. I shall follow your advice and speak with the temple president for BTG entry. Writing is a great thing, especially in our line of faith, I feel. I think all of us should make a regular habit of jotting down a few lines everyday of our realizations.
    I hope too that I am able to present more articles for your reading pleasure. Wish me all the best !
    Hari Bol,
    -manoj

    Reply
  4. Hare Krsna Prabhu, thanks for taking so much time to share all the nectar. I am looking to contact Chandrasekar Prabhu. Do you have an email for him?

    Thanks,
    Jvalamukhi dd

    Reply

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