By Madhava Smullen
The Hare Krishna Festivals program, started by the late Tribhuvanatha Dasa on the instruction of his guru Srila Prabhupada, has organized festivals in halls all over the UK to share Krishna consciousness, attracting many to spiritual life.
Continued by Giridhari Das after Tribhuvanatha’s passing in 2001, the program has put on festivals for 34 consecutive years starting in 1986. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, 2020 was the program’s first year without festivals.
The Hare Krishna Festivals team has been doing what they can to continue their mission in creative ways. They’ve showed videos of past years’ festivals on their Facebook page, published a book of Tribhuvanatha’s introductory talks on Krishna consciousness, chanted live online for Glastonbury music festival’s virtual edition GlastHomeBury, and had a socially-distanced, masked kirtan on a boat down the Paddington Basin through Wembley.
With 2021 unfortunately again looking unlikely to allow festivals in the old model, the team has now decided to start a weekly video podcast, “Hare Krishna Festivals UK Tour,” which will “travel” virtually around the UK. Host Narada Das aims to chat with unsung heroes and highlight smaller, lesser-known Hare Krishna communities and projects beyond London. The Festival team will also launch a support program for (now virtual) Namahatta groups and sangas around the UK, offering them resources like online kirtans and talks.
Like the Hare Krishna Festival program, the podcast will be designed to reach not only ISKCON devotees but also the general public, using an accessible approach and language. It will be pre-recorded and available to watch on Fridays from 7pm GMT on the Hare Krishna Festivals UK Facebook and Youtube pages. Episodes will run from 30 mins to an hour.
“We have 20,000 followers on Facebook, and 8,000 subscribers on our Youtube channel,” Narada says. “So if at least 500 watch the podcast every week, that’s equivalent to a big festival.”