Over the years, we had heard of Bhaktifest, as the devotees in Los Angeles had had a prasādam booth there a couple times, but it never occurred to us until a few years ago that we could have a book/art booth there.
Just a couple of weeks before Shaktifest, Śyāmarāṇī dīdī thought to call Sridhar, the producer of Bhaktifest and Shaktifest and ask him if we could have a booth with books and art. Sridhar is a kind-hearted, sincere devotee in the line of Neem Karoli Bābā, and he is non-sectarian with a broad vision. Sridhar met Śrīla Gurudeva in 2010, having been invited by Vijaya-kṛṣṇa prabhu (of the Kirtaniyas). Sridhar also bought a giclee at that time, so he knew Śyāmarāṇī dīdī. He kindly arranged our involvement with the upcoming Shaktifest in the nonprofit section. Śivānanda Sena prabhu, Sarasvatī dāsī and I set up our booth, and we were overwhelmed by the receptivity of the spiritual seekers in attendance. It was difficult to not get overwhelmed upon seeing thousands of people chanting enthusiastically. When meeting them at our booth, we could share the divine, transcendental books of Śrīla Gurudeva and Śrīla Prabhupāda, which explain the mantra they are chanting.
So many people know of Bhagavad-gītā or else they have a copy and are interested in further reading. Books like Prema-samputa, Camatkāra-candrikā, Secret Truths of the Bhāgavatam, Harmony, Rādhā-kṛṣṇa-gaṇodeśa-dīpikā are big hits! And Harināma Mahā-mantra is particularly favored by avid kīrtana enthusiasts.
After our first Shaktifest, Sridhar arranged that we could have a booth at Bhaktifest as well. Bhaktifest is twice as big as Shaktifest. It is held in September (Shaktifest is in May). Vijay prabhu also encouraged Sridhar to invite Śyāmarāṇī dīdī to speak at Shaktifest, since the festival’s focus is on the divine feminine. So, for the past 2 years, Śyāmarāṇī dīdī has been one of the guest speakers there.
Through these festivals, we have also heard about and attended other festivals throughout California and Oregon, setting up our book/art booth at each one.
As Śivānanda prabhu put it nicely, “Now, by the Lord’s inconceivable mercy, which can truly be perceived as Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, as Mahāprabhu’s mercy, as Guru’s mercy, beautiful festivals like Shaktifest have manifest, which allow us to have full facility: book booths, straight Kṛṣṇa Conscious Art (not rugs or mundane canvas art or party stickers), and, fully dressed in devotional clothing, we can directly approach thousands of people from every walk of life, people who are aching with a desire to know about things like mantra, meditation, yoga, spirituality, kīrtana, japa, sevā, pilgrimage, study, sādhana, guru… O my Kṛṣṇa…absolutely amazing.”
Thousands of people attend this amazing four-day festival of yoga classes, breathwork classes, spiritual workshops and kīrtana, and due to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s coming to America, all are aware of concepts like karma, dharma, reincarnation and the glories of chanting, especially the mahā-mantra!
We attempt to make our booth warm and inviting, so people feel comfortable to sit down and read, just like in a library, and to speak with us. Śivānanda prabhu and Kṛṣṇamayī dāsī are core team members who attend every festival. They also kindly house the books and all of the paraphernalia needed to set up for the festival. Rādhikā dāsī has attended several festivals, as well as other LA and Badger devotees such as Mālinī and Jagadīśa, and Paṅkaja and Yamunā. The more devotees there are around the booth, the better!
Some devotees also attend festivals in their area such as Śrīpāda Avadhūta Mahārāja and Anurādhā dāsī on the East Coast. It would be wonderful if devotees could attend the festivals in their area. If anyone has any questions about how to get started, feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some video and report links:
See www.gvpbookdistribution.com for more enlivening reports!