“We would be very happy if we would have your support and experience in order to make the project successful.” This was the note I received from Jaya Krsna Dasa, the Administrative Director of Bhaktivedanta College, who was wooing me into participating in the college’s newest undertaking: prasadam distribution at a summer rock festival in Germany.
I anticipated a great adventure, and I also looked forward to seeing how the college had developed in the two years since I had been a student.
I could get together with old friends and meet new ones. Bhaktavasa Govinda Dasa, who graduated in 2008, was coming from Poland, having had substantial experience organizing the kitchen at the Polish Summer Tour. And a devotee named Gokulananda Dasa was flying to Belgium from Australia, bringing onboard his practical know-how of organizing similar events down under.
Armed with our shiny red tent, brand new cooking equipment, and lots of enthusiasm, we first headed for NÃ¼rnburgring, the famed Formula One car-racing venue that also annually hosts one of the biggest rock festivals in Europe, Rock am Ring.
While we had braced ourselves for the loud music to be played from no less than three stages, we were somewhat taken aback by the German weather that awaited us. Five degrees Celsius in late June, plus rain! Partly because of the poor weather, our distribution on the first day was slow. And the people did not really know the tastiness of pure vegetarian food.
Slowly but surely, however, as the crowd became more familiar with the food, it disregarded the pouring rain, and our sales increased as the weekend proceeded. We doubled our revenue day by day.
All the college students — Braja Biharini Dasi and Anna, who were selling prasadam, and Rishabhadev, Gopinatha, and Manoj, who helped with the cooking and set up the tent and distributed prasadam — together with the rest of team did a great job.
The almost torrential rain and the doubling of our sales repeated themselves at our next event, the Southside rock festival held in southern Germany, near TÃ¼bingen. We improved our setup by adding a new banner and a flag with Lord Jagannatha’s smiling face. Most importantly, we had a new waterproof tent. Another student, Sheena, came along this time.
Dinadayal Dasa, another member of the college administration, and Jaya Krsna scheduled more festivals for August, but these two were the only ones I could take part in. Because the people increasingly appreciated our pure vegetarian food, the college team succeeded in reaching out to them and also raised needed funds. An educational institution always needs funds, and you get them either from the government and donors or you do some business yourself. The college team itself is now endeavouring to assist the college financially, and the college gives the students a credit on their tuition for every festival they participate in.
The college will further develop prasadam distribution, and in August it got its own big truck. While traveling to the Southside festival we were stopped by the German police because our small truck was seriously overloaded. If we were to continue with our journey, the two police officers said, a bigger truck was a must. No doubt the dedicated team of college devotees will be very happy to have your support to make this project successful.
Written by: Yugal Kisora Dasa
Yugal Kishor graduated from Bhaktivedanta College and earned a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at the University of Cardiff.