Over 1,000 people new to mantra culture are expected to attend Mantra Fest in Moscow, Russia on September 1st at the Green Concert Club.
It’s the second such event this year. The first, says organizer Shaktyavesha Avatar Das, came about as a result of a collaboration with Georgia Wyss, director of the film Mantra Movie: Entrance into Silence, and was a big success.
Taking place on April 24th, the festival featured a combination of local Hare Krishna bands and well-known artists from the world of conscious music including top Australian world music artist Peruquois.
108 Records, a devotee-run record company in Moscow, was also present at the event and is now garnering interest from Universal Music, showing that a kirtan boom is underway.
Keeping the snowball rolling, this September’s event comes just four months later and is being promoted by major brands, magazines and communities in Russia like Yoga Journal, Organic People, Organic Woman and Vegetarian.
The five-and-a-half-hour immersion into mantra will feature nine different international musicians or groups, all performing bhajans of the acharyas and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, but in their own contemporary styles.
Prahlad Nrsimha from Ecuador will do lounge jazz flavored kirtan. Ananda Monet from the UK will deliver dramatic film score style songs from her album Inevitable Time, as well as a new track about Lord Nrsimhadeva. Jahnavi Harrison, originally from the UK and now based in New York, will perform world music from her album Like a River to the Sea, combining mantras with her own English lyrics. And Bitu Malik from Vrindavan, India, will bring classical, devotional ragas.
Meanwhile, there will be four local Moscow acts. Hip-hop artist T-Check and MaGoRa – which stands for Mantra, Gospel, Rap – will perform a combination of conscious rap with mantra. And Dhira, Nilambari and Shakti-loka – the latter of whom performed ‘Jaya Radha Madhava’ at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2017 – will all deliver mantra rock.
“Really, we’re just trying to serve Srila Prabhupada, who was very, very pleased with devotees sharing the maha-mantra,” Shaktyavesha Avatar says. “I’m super inspired by Shyamasundara Prabhu’s book, ‘Shooting for the Rhino,’ in which he narrates so many pastimes where Srila Prabhupada was so pleased to hear about the Beatles chanting the maha-mantra, how the mantra was played on radio stations, etc. So we’re trying to follow in Shyamasundara Prabhu’s footsteps in terms of engaging interest in the concert culture, and presenting the mantra as a new genre.”
He adds: “Fifteen or twenty years ago, hip-hop culture was completely alien and new to Slavic culture. But very quickly, it became very deep rooted into the mainstream. So our hope is that mantra culture can do the same.”
As well as the music, the award-winning Samadhi Dance Company from Amsterdam, will perform their ATMA show, based on the Srimad-Bhagavatam, along with several new dances inspired by Lord Nrsimhadeva.
Mantra Fest will also feature a film premier, of the documentary “Traveling Monk at Mount Kailash: Lord Shiva’s Abode” from director Ananta Vrindavan Das.
The film follows the adventures of a small group of pilgrims led by Indradyumna Swami as they perform the Kailash Kora, a 52-kilometer trek around the base of the sacred mountain, which starts at 4,600 meters and includes a 5,600-meter pass.
In it, Indradyumna Swami shares his inner transformation during the pilgrimage, and talks about purifying the heart and developing a taste for chanting Hare Krishna.
“It’s a method of incorporating a lecture into the festival, in an appealing and attractive way,” says Shaktyavesha Avatar.
With Mantra Fest, Shaktyavesha’s goal is to bring about transformation. “We’re not just bringing people for a night out, to socialize and dance a bit,” he says. “We’re trying to take them on a journey where Mantra can transform them. We want to give them a taste. And after the festival, there’s a whole slew of bands they can follow on social media. Then hopefully they will start chanting and getting interested in everything that follows on from that.”
Mantra Fest is set to become a regular event once about every four months, with the next one planned for February 1st, 2020.