Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Birmingham 24 hour Kirtan

A pirate from the Caribbean? Even more exotic - this is a portrait of Madhava - an increasingly popular kirtaniya from Mauritius, now living in Switzerland. He led some glorious kirtans at the Birmingham kirtan in May, which you can read about below, in an account from Diana, a librarian, who was one of our Oxford party to the event.

Visit to Birmingham kirtan in May.

On Sunday 29th May 2011, sixteen of us from the monthly Oxford kirtan group went to join in with part of the annual 24-hour kirtan organized by ISKCON Birmingham. This event took place in the community hall of the Sri Venkatesara (Balaji) temple in Tividale, on the west side of Birmingham. We left St Giles at 9.30, returning around 7.30 but the day was so interesting that it felt like quite a short visit!

The kirtans were led by Sachinanda M. and Madhava, among others, and there seemed to be over a thousand people present. It wasn’t easy to find a space to sit on the floor, and we were all tightly packed together but I soon forgot any discomfort. The energy raised by so many people chanting was amazing, and there was a great feeling of divine presence and love which was quite overwhelming and which seemed to be shared by all. In smaller groups I’m usually inhibited about singing loudly or clapping, but on this occasion I found myself completely caught up in the general enthusiasm and able to participate fully.

After eating a delicious lunch, some of us looked around the complex of temples in what is the largest South Indian temple complex in Europe. As well as the main Sri Balaji temple which is a smaller model of the temple in Tirupati, there are temples to Shiva, Ganesh and Murugan. As visitors we were made to feel very welcome, and we saw families offering gifts of fruit which was then distributed to all those present. The temples had a very holy atmosphere, and I felt privileged to have received a glimpse of south Indian culture without actually going there! All together it was a very satisfying and inspiring day, and I hope to return next year.

Diana Stevenson

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