Countless festivals are celebrated in every tradition, faith, and country, from Christmas to Passover, Hanukkah to Eid, Diwali to Holi, the Japanese Festival of Lanterns to the Chinese New Year, and a myriad more. These joyous festivals are meant to celebrate an important personality, a historical or significant event, or the beginning of something auspicious.
For Vaishnavas, followers of Lord Krishna, dozens of festivals throughout the year invoke auspiciousness, commemorating the pastimes of the Lord or the life of His prominent devotees. We invite everyone, from any faith or background, to experience the flavor and mood of these festivals, which are unique to the Western world.
In the Vaishnava or Krishna tradition, we relate to God as a person, albeit with supreme spiritual attributes. The goal of life is to rekindle our lost relationship with Him by practicing bhakti-yoga, connecting to God in devotion, which satisfies the soul and gives lasting happiness. These festivals are meant to increase our devotion to God; we chant His holy names, dance, and serve Him personally in the form of the Deity, a spiritual form of God described in the holy Vedic scriptures.
Here are the upcoming festivals that are sure to fascinate you and enliven your spirits:
Nityananda Trayodashi (Sunday, Feb 17)
Appearance Anniversary of Sri Nityananda Prabhu
In the sixteenth century Lord Nityananda Prabhu graced the earth together with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to give freely the treasure of God’s love. These two effulgent personalities were compared to the sun and moon, who would dissipate the darkness of the world. They taught people the fundamental process of connecting with God in this age: the chanting of Krishna’s holy names. Nityananda Prabhu captivated the people of Navadvipa, West Bengal, while he danced and chanted in the streets. As an incarnation of Lord Balarama, Lord Krishna’s brother, Nityananda Prabhu is described as the most compassionate personality, who non-discriminately gives his blessing and kindness to all.
To commemorate this auspicious occasion of Nityananda’s appearance in this world, devotees will spend the day remembering and glorifying Lord Nityananda’s magnanimous qualities. Celebrations will begin at 10am with an abhisheka (divine bathing ceremony) will be held. Anyone can bring offerings of flowers, fruit, and palatable vegetarian foodstuffs, prepared with love and devotion, and offer it to Lord Nityananda from 10am–6pm.
Gaura Purnima (Wednesday, March 20)
Appearance Anniversary of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is described in the Vedic scriptures as a covered incarnation of Lord Krishna, known as the Golden Avatar (“Gaura” or “Gauranga”). With the complexion of molten gold and the mood of an unparalleled devotee of God, he descended to earth on a full-moon night (Purnima) in the month of Phalguna more than five hundred years ago. Through his life and teachings, he epitomized that the essence of spiritual thought and enlightenment is love of God, which he widely broadcast through his disciples and followers. He initiated the sankirtan movement (“sanga” meaning group or community, and “kirtan” meaning chanting of God’s names) to encourage people to come together to glorify the Lord, which would be more potent than praying or chanting on one’s own. Through his campaigning efforts and desires to propagate Lord Krishna’s message, Lord Chaitanya transformed the lowest of men into servants of God. Therefore, it is easier to approach the Lord through His merciful incarnation of Lord Chaitanya.
The day is spent in sankirtan, chanting the Lord’s holy name with others and feeling His presence. A divine bathing ceremony, called abhisheka, will be held in the temple from 5–6pm. Anyone is welcome to bring food preparations and flowers and offer to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu the entire day. Devotees fast till moonrise, and everyone is invited to a wonderful feast in the evening.
Rama Navami (Saturday, April 13)
Appearance Anniversary of Lord Rama
Rama Navami, the anniversary of Lord Rama’s descent into this world, is celebrated in great excitement and splendor. Lord Rama, the renowned incarnation of God held in great awe by Hindus and people worldwide, exemplified the perfect human being. His tales in the Ramayana are not mythical fiction but have been accounted by the sage Valmiki Muni thousands of years ago, who witnessed Lord Rama’s brave and wondrous deeds. Till today, the story of the Ramayana touches people from all walks of life and inspires them to live an exemplary life like that of Lord Rama.
Devotees observe the day by narrating and glorifying Lord Rama’s pastimes and chanting his holy names. The community is invited to bring offerings of flowers, garlands, fruit, and food preparations from 3–6pm, after which a wonderful feast will be served.
On April 13 and 14, New Vrindaban will also hold a Donor Appreciation Event to honor and thank donors for their support throughout the years.
New Vrindaban Festival: Celebrating the Cows (April 27–28)
New Vrindaban has been the home of Lord Krishna’s cows since its first cow, Kaliya, came to New Vrindaban in April 1969. This year celebrates 50 momentous years of cow protection in New Vrindaban and the first and longest-running cow-protection program in the West. With a herd of 61 cows, bulls, and oxen and steady progress in training, medical care, and facilities, New Vrindaban hopes for continued support from the community and to create more awareness of cow protection.
A two-day festival will be held to commemorate the cows and their caregivers and to offer tribute to Srila Prabhupada, whose vision gave rise to projects like these all over the world.
Please look out for details of the festival on our Facebook Page closer to the time.
First Friday Kirtan at the Palace of Gold (every Friday, from May 3–Oct 4)
Kirtan invokes the special presence of God when we chant His holy names with others. The sanctity of the place where the holy name is chanted makes the experience even more special. Please come and experience the potency of Krishna’s holy names in the association of devotees in a most sacred place.
New Vrindaban Festival: The Living Name Retreat (May 10–12)
After last year’s well-attended holy name retreat, New Vrindaban will host its second retreat called “The Living Name Retreat” on Mother’s Day Weekend.
Whether you are a new practitioner or staunch follower of bhakti-yoga, the Living Name Retreat will help you take further steps in improving your chanting and deepening your connection with the Lord. Your experience will be enhanced in the association of devotees and kirtan lovers who are eager to relish the sweet taste of Krishna’s names. In addition, you will be receiving valuable insights and support from an advanced ambassador of the holy names, His Holiness Sacinandana Swami, who will be facilitating the event. This is an event not be missed!
Registration is now open, which includes three-night accommodation in New Vrindaban’s scenic Palace Lodge, nine special prasadam meals, and all seminars.
Please register now and book your accommodation.
Nrsimha Chaturdasi (Friday, May 17)
Appearance Anniversary of Lord Nrsimhadeva
Lord Nrsimhadeva (Nara meaning “man,” simha meaning “lion,” and deva meaning “god”) assumed the form of a half-man half-lion to protect His devotee Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada’s father was an evil king who wreaked havoc in the world and was inimical to God and His devotees. Prahlada, however, was a devoted believer of God, which enraged his father to the point of his trying to kill his own son. Lord Nrsimha appeared from a pillar to protect Prahlada from the wrath of his father. The Lord was so pleased with Prahlada’s devotion and faith that He manifested in this unusual form to reciprocate with his love.
On Nrsimha Chaturdasi, the divine appearance anniversary of Lord Nrsimhadeva, we seek the blessings and divine protection of this unique incarnation of God.
Festivities include a divine bathing ceremony (abhisheka) of the Nrsimhadeva Deity at the temple from 5–6pm, food offerings from 4–6pm, and a special Nrsimha arati and darshan at 7:30pm. A special feast will also be served after dusk.
New Vrindaban Festival:
50th Anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s first visit to New Vrindaban (May 21)
When Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya (spiritual master) of ISKCON, heard about the 133-acre plot of land in the lush countryside of West Virginia, he wanted to transform it into a pilgrimage site in the West. From Srila Prabhupada’s divine vision and inspiration, New Vrindaban was established, a spiritual paradise meant to teach others to live in harmony with the earth and God.
Srila Prabhupada first visited New Vrindaban from May 21–June 22, 1969, inspiring its young pioneers to build the first Krishna conscious farming community in the world.
To celebrate the occasion of Srila Prabhupada’s first visit, a line-up of festivities is being planned. Please look out for more details on our Facebook Events Page.
Srila Prabhupada Reunion (June 1–2)
Like last year’s grand reunion, we anticipate this year’s reunion festival to bring together many old and new residents of New Vrindaban to share their experiences serving over the past five decades. Please invite your family and friends to attend this momentous occasion and gain insights into New Vrindaban’s history and legacy. For more information and accommodation bookings, please check our Facebook Events Page closer to the time.
New Vrindaban 24-Hour Kirtan Festival (amended date: June 15–16)
Join us for a nonstop 24-hour kirtan, the chanting of Krishna’s holy names, to invoke world peace, auspiciousness, and sublime joy in our lives. In this age there is no other way to attain spiritual perfection than by immersing ourselves in God’s holy names, which purifies the heart and connects us with the Lord. Please see for more highlights on our Facebook Page.
New Vrindaban Swan Boat Festival (every Saturday from 15 June–21 Sept)
Our annual Swan Boat Festival begins in the summer every Saturday night at 9pm. Please join us for a magical torch-lit procession to Swan Lake with kirtan and a swan boat ride for Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra, culminating in a small fireworks display.
If you want the rare opportunity to serve the Lord during these festivals, including preparing flower garlands, altar decorations, and food (bhoga) offerings, and doing other personal Deity services, please contact Vilasini Dasi a few days before every festival: firstname.lastname@example.org or Vanessa Marcelo on Facebook.
[N1]Add link here: www.newvrindaban.com/the-living-name-2019-registration/