All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga

EthnoLife Festival: Sorochany

Report from Russia

by Sripad Bhakti Premik Siddhanti Maharaj of USA

Sripad Bhakti Bimal Avadhut Maharaj and the Russian devotees recently organized a grand outdoor preaching festival near Moscow as only they can do. It was called Ethnolife which means bringing together various environmental, cultural, music, and spiritual groups under one banner and inviting as many people as possible to participate.

Many of the Russian people have a natural propensity for spiritual life, as we have all seen and as Srila Gurudev Srila Govinda Maharaj remarks, plus they also like to get out of the cities during the summer and enjoy the many forests, lakes and rivers which abound in this vast country. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Sripad Avadhut Maharaj organizes Etho-life which is advertized as a rock and spiritual festival free from drugs and alcohol. This year it took place outside of Moscow near a village and the forest.

Over 25,000 people attended. The grand opening was on Friday afternoon in which Sripad Avadhut Maharaj gave the opening speech and then led the singing of the Russian national anthem.

Many people participated. As part of the opening ceremony Avadhut Maharaj also arranged that cows from a nearby village be brought and led on a parade throughout the grounds. (All Russian villages have cows and fresh milk, butter, etc. which is readily available and sold at roadside stands throughout the country.) The cows were nicely decorated and a big Sankirttan began and wandered through the grounds. Also Sri Giriraj came from the Moscow Temple and later took His place on the top of 'Govardhan Hill'.

Every day the devotees and helpers served prasadam from a Jagannath Express Restaurant, which was set up in tact, to thousands of participants. Sripad Bhakti Chaitanya Bharati Maharaj came every day from his nearby home and preached and engaged with guests for between six and eight hours. Sripad Bhakti Lalita Akinchan Maharaj also manned the preaching booths for many hours daily, as I did.

Kirtans were spontaneous during the days throughout the four days of the festival but every night beginning at 11 or 11:30 the devotees had a tremendous Kirtan that lasted several hours and would end on the stage at 2 or 3 in the morning with Sripad Avadhut Maharaj hosting. Being a festival, most people stay up all night.

Please see the related photos that give a little insight as to the enormity and grand style of this festival. I have heard from the devotees that we sold a huge amount of literature and we also welcomed five new members into Srila Gurudev's family: Acharya Das, Nalini Devi Dasi, Iswara Das, Aravinda Das and Maladhari Devi Dasi. Also please see Sripad Akinchan Maharaj's web log for a nice write-up of the festival.

Now Sripad Avadhut Maharaj and the devotees are organizing an Indian Independence Day Festival for both Moscow (Aug. 14th) and St. Petersburg (17th). More reports later.

-Swami B.P.Siddhanti

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
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