We students came together a few times in the weeks before the concert, with all the potential band members, just to rehearse the numbers. By midweek, before the concert itself, the e-mails were out. We met one final time the night before the concert for a final run-through.
The next morning we were all in the kitchen cooking enough prasada (food offered to the Lord) for fifty students. By mid-morning, I and a few others were finally in the car, after some chaos. Everyone was exhausted from studies, service, and a general lack of sleep. We started the drive. The rest of the cars were going to head off later, but we were to go early so we could clean the hall, set up, and then get ready for theharinam.
The hall was dirty because the staff had forgotten to clean it, so our crew got to work and purified the environment and decorated it for the program. We were finished in good time and were keen to go on harinam. We waited for the devotees to join us. We waited and waited, and no one was coming. We decided to call up the drivers to see what the problem was. It was a big disaster. There was a massive traffic jam holding up most of our cars and another had scored a flat battery. I prayed to Lord Chaitanya for His mercy.
We decided to go out on harinam anyway. We were enthusiastic and inexperienced and mostly having fun. The rain was an unpleasant drizzle, and the flyers were sticking to our hands, but we persisted for a short while, at least.
We returned to the hall just as our next car load of devoteesarrived. I was whisked away by Nimai (he and I were the presenters) for another run-through. We practiced outside (so we could escape the noise inside) and seconded as doormen. We were happy to see that students were gradually arriving.
Our performance got underway soon enough, after a few technical difficulties. The audience, receptive and smiling, seemed not to be disturbed by the difficulties or unexpected problems caused by the traffic delay.
Nimai and I introduced all the acts in a way that emphasized love and bhakti, juggling words to keep the audience involved and free of prejudice. We presented kirtan, music, dance, a touch of philosophy, and prasada.
We ended the night with the maha-mantra. Nimai began to teach the audience the Swami step. The people willingly rose from their seats, ready to dance. The dancing was nice. Everyone danced along with hands in the air. Soon our ladies took over leading the dance, and then Nimai encouraged me to take our dancing offstage. Within no time, Nimai had gathered all the boys, and we had our own dancing circle.
Our facilitators were called up to the stage, and we gave them gifts of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Everyone signed the follow-up sheet, excited to see more shows and take moreprasada.
It was amazing to see how, though we felt incompetent, Lord Chaitanya mercifully carried through our whole operation. I was fully content, just wondering how I was going to manage to cook breakfast the next morning for the entire community.
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by Madhavendra Puri Dasa
This is adapted from a blog of a first-year student from Australia. He was born to parents in ISKCON. His blog can be read at maddmonk.wordpress.com (in the section “Life in the Castle”).