Around 1,000 devotees, including many youth, from Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, the U.S., the U.K., and India are expected to celebrate the New Year with the Holy Name during Kirtan Fest at Brazil’s Nova Gokula Dhama from December 31st to January 3rd.
The event has been running annually since 2008, becoming more popular each year to achieve its status today as the biggest Vaishnava festival in Latin America.
Part of the draw is Nova Gokula Dhama itself. The huge farm, nestled amongst mountains and preserved rainforest, is located conveniently between Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. A crystal clear river dubbed the “Yamuna” runs through the property, which is full of cows, exotic birds and other animals. There’s also a beautiful temple, a Pushpa Samadhi for Srila Prabhupada, a guest house, a restaurant, and famously friendly local residents.
Amidst this meditation-friendly natural setting, this year’s Kirtan Fest will start at noon on December 31st. The kirtan will run until 1:00 a.m. that day, dramatically concluding with a fireworks display to celebrate the beginning of 2015.
From January 1st to 3rd, the day will begin with the Yauvana Sanga youth festival from 10am to 12pm.
“The Yauvana Sanga sessions will include discussions on topics relevant to Vaishnava youth, as well as entertainment and other activities such as Harinamas to inspire the youth in Krishna consciousness,” says ISKCON Brazil Youth Leader Vaikuntha Murti Das, who is organizing the whole event.
From 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Kirtan Fest will be held in the spacious temple room of Nova Gokula’s gorgeous Vedic temple, home to Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, and Sri Sri Sita Rama Lakshman Hanuman.
“During Kirtan Fest, the pujaris [priests] will decorate the Deities even more beautifully than usual with nice ornaments and garlands,” Vaikuntha Murti says.
The kirtans themselves will be led by an international bevy of well-known chanters including Amala Kirtan Das from Austin, Texas, Uttama Bhakta Das from New Orleans, Bhakti Lata Dasi from New York, Ajamila Das from Toronto and Haribhakti Dey from Mayapur.
“All of these special guests will join our many local kirtanyas, creating what we expect to be a very nice and powerful festival,” says Vaikuntha Murti. “These long kirtan festivals always bring positive results because chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is our yuga dharma, or the path to spiritual perfection in this age.”