For seven days we were deeply absorbed in chanting in kirtan and hearing katha on various topics. And Almvik is such a perfect place for such event - secluded and surrounded by untouched nature: forests, a beautiful lake and fields with cows...
gathered to receive Yadubara and Srutakirti Prabhus for the entire week, and
BB Govinda Swami and Madhava Prabhu with his wife for the last three days.
I had invited more speakers but unfortunately they had to cancel their
attendance. HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami could not get his visa in time, even
though his ticket was booked. This was of course especially disappointing to
all of us.
Maharaja wrote a long letter describing his attempts to get the Schengen
visa, stating: "I have never gone through this much problem in my life to
get a visa and then not get the visa after all. This is the first time...."
And he concluded: "This new lady is harrassing everyone like this. Before
there was nice old lady who processed visa very cooperatively....."
We felt grateful to Maharaja that he had endeavored so much in order to come
and bless us with his association, and we saw it as Krsna's arrangement that
he could not come - simply to increase our longing to receive him next
Even though we had less devotees taking part this year, nevertheless the
mood and atmosphere was much nicer than last year - very sweet and deep.
Especially the local devotees living in Almvik took part very eagerly in the
seminars and evening kirtans. For several hours every evening we were
chanting the holy name with deep concentration and prayerful mood.
This year we slightly changed the scedule to mix the Bhakti Sangam Festival
into a Kirtan Mela, and we dedicated the mornings to hearing seminars, and
after four o'clock in the afternoon we chanted in kirtan, until nine or ten
Srutakirti Prabhu's Prabhupada Katha was popular, and Yadubara Prabhu showed
very nice fotos of Prabhupada and commented in a very simple, deep and
humble mood which touched everyone's heart. His evening kirtans were also
well attended, and devotees deeply absorbed themselves in chanting the holy
I gave a four-session seminar on "Death - the Final Call" - such a relevant
and intriguing topic which deserves deeper contemplation.....
Of course the last three days were the highlight of the event, when Madhava
Prabhu and BB Govinda Swami came to increase our bliss in kirtan....
Like last year we arranged for a separate room to serve the prasadam to our
special guests, and the local senior devotees joined in order to take
association of the visiting sadhus. We enjoyed each other's company in
harmony and affection, sharing realizations, thoughts and experiences.
Madhava Prabhu gave special attention to the many children of Almvik - we
have around thirty adults living here, and thirty children in the age
between one and twelve.
Now during the festival there were of course so many more.....
And Madhava is becoming their hero.....!
Especially the young boys are imitating him - also wanting to have earrings
Some of the boys were drawing some designs on their arms with various
coloured pens and showing it to him with great excitment.
He gave a special program to the children speaking about the importance of
kirtan with all it's different instruments, nicely packaged in stories.
During the evening kirtan Madhava Prabhu sometimes requested the Matajis to
sing in chorus, and sometimes the Prabhujis, and then the children, which
really involved them into chanting the holy name! They were trying their
best to chant with full concentration, from the top of their voices.....
One little girl decided to check out Madhava Prabhu's shikha while he was
leading the kirtan. Fascinated and puzzled by his big dreadlock shikha she
stood behind him, looking at it from one side, and then from the other side,
curiously wondering what the hell he had there on his head.....!
It must have looked to her like a big bird's nest....
Madhava Prabhu could sense what was going on and gave her some meaningful
looks from the corner of his eyes, occasionally moving his ears like a
It was sweet to observe how the kids so eagerly connected with him....
Such affectionate exchanges will leave a deep impression on their little
hearts and will attract them to chanting the holy name - no doubt....
On the last evening we concluded the festival with a closing ceremony. I
expressed my gratitude to all those devotees who had been working so hard in
order to make such a festival possible, and to everyone for their eager
Such festival is a wonderful loving exchange - giving and accepting
prasadam, and above all: inquiring confidentially about deeper spiritual
subject matters, and sharing realizations and experiences.
And to perfect it I had bought a little gift for every one of our special
One day before the festival began I had spent several hours running around
with Asta Siddhi mataji in the nearby town, looking for a suitable present.
It is not an easy thing to find a gift - not just a symbolic one, but
something meaningful which is of some use to everyone.
And it should be something typical for Scandinavia...
I had almost come to the point of giving up the idea all together, since I
had not found anything nice. Feeling somewhat disappointed I strolled around
the nice and well stocked giftshop of the nearby Waldorfschool (Rudolf
Steiner School) when suddenly my eyes fell on something very useful: some
good quality woolen "long-johns" ( long underpants).....
It would be something very practical for everyone, and something very
Scandinavian, since such garments are mainly produced in this part of the
Yes, this was a great idea....
So we decided to purchase six pairs.
The next problem was the size - which one to get for each personality...?!
Not an easy matter to work out......
With the motto "better too big than too small" we took an XXL for BB Govinda
Maharaja, and XL for Smita Krsna Maharaja, a L for Madhava and Yadubara
Prabhus, and a M for Madhava Prabhu's wife Radhika.
We got them wrapped up in colorful paper and put stickers with names on
them, to make sure everybody would get the right parcel.....
Then the moment had come to present our special gift to our sadhus....
With a big bag of colorful parcels next to me I announced the distribution
of the gifts.
I shared that this is a gift which affectionate and caring mothers like to
give. After all my own mother had given me the same present some 15 years
ago, and it had been of so much use to me.
At this point our Sadhus were indeed becoming curious what kind of gift they
were to receive....
I further explained: "You have all been warming our hearts with your
wonderful association! What can we offer in return to you?! So we would
simply like to offer some warmth to your bodies, or more precisely - to your
legs! After all it was your legs who brought you here! And for a preacher
the legs are such important parts of the body! And if we serve your legs
nicely, then you might come again next year...."
By then everyone in the audience was smiling and chuckling away.....
And I requested Smita Krsna Swami to distribute the colorful parcels to each
and everyone, giving him the last parcel myself.
BB Govinda Swami opened up the gift in great haste and curiosity, and held
up the long underpants for everyone to see. It was immediately very obvious
that XXL was too large for him - the legs being far too long! Maharaja
pretended to pittifully cry, calling out: "It's too big....! But I really
want them.....! But they are soooo big.....!"
And turning towards his backside he wondered: "Is it really THAT big...?!"
Everyone burst out in laughter, and Maharaja continued to lament and sob.
I laughingly appologized to Maharaja, exclaiming: "I simply thought better
too big than too small...!". This made the audience laugh even more.
The whole scenario was simply very unique and funny, but sweet at the same
Maharaja discovered that there were little buttons on the elastic band going
around the waist, which allowed to adjust the size. He held up the end of
the elastic band for everyone to see, and I happily called out: "Yes,
Maharaja, you found the little trick to make them a bit smaller around the
Needless to say - everyone was amused....
I offered that we can exchange them, and on the German Kirtan Mela he would
receive the right size. Maharaja was somewhat pacified.
Once the closing ceremony had come to an end we had Madhava Prabhu lead us
in kirtan, and BB Govinda Swami made his way to the bathroom to try on his
newly aquired garment.
I was anxiously waiting outside the door for the report. Upon his return his
servant boldly exclaimed: "Actually, they almost fit! Just the legs are too
long, but around the top they are somewhat OK."
And Maharaja smilingly added: "Pretty bagy - could be a little smaller...."
On the 30th of July I flew back to Ukraine, together with Yadubara Prabhu
and Alakananda mataji......
Your servant, Devaki dd