for ISKCON News on May 3, 2013
Between 300 and 500 gurukulis—members of ISKCON’s second generation—are expected to gather at this year’s Kuli Mela in Germany from August 7th to 11th.
Attendees will hail not only from Germany itself but also Austria, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Italy, and England.
The festival, which has already been held in various locations around the US, Russia, Europe and Australasia is intended as a forum for “Kulis” to share their talents and realizations as well as to be educated and inspired.
This year, it will take place on ISKCON’s 17-hectare Simhachalam farm, situated in the Bavarian Forest and conveniently located right in the center of Europe. Many Kulis grew up and attended gurukula (school) at the farm, which has the only Nrsimhadeva temple in Europe.
Damodara Asen, who is organizing the Mela alongside Haridas Thakura Das and gurukuli and Simhachalam president Govinda Dev Das, is one of them. He attended gurukula in Simhachalam for two years, but went through the rest of his schooling in his native Austria.
The Simhachalam temple, mysterious and beautiful in the snow
“The fascinating thing is, Austria is such a small country, with only eight million people,” he says. “And we have only one temple. But when I organized a gurukuli party some years ago, sixty kids showed up. That’s just Austria. I imagine there must be many more from Germany. So I wanted to hold the Mela in Germany to reunite all these old friends.”
Kuli Mela Germany will feature a variety of interesting workshops and seminars which Kulis will be able to use in their spiritual and every day lives.
To begin with, ISKCON guru Sacinandana Swami will offer one of his famous kirtan and japa workshops, exploring the Holy Name with many helpful techniques and meditations.
“He will also be available for personal talks, which we appreciate very much,” Damodara says. “Kulis will be able to go for walks in the forest with him, ask him questions, and share their insights and experiences.”
The temple room
Damodara’s father Jagannidhi Das will also give a seminar, about how to see Krishna consciousness not just as a religion, but as a way of life. He will discuss practical Krishna conscious methods to manage our every day lives and stay positive in the face of the modern world’s current economical and ecological challenges.
Meanwhile Prabhupada disciple Sri Sarvabhavana Das will give personal consultations. Extremely well-versed in both spiritual and scriptural knowledge, and in Ayurveda, Vedic astrology, and palmistry, he’ll help gurukulis with questions about their current challenges as well as their futures.
Practical life skills will also be offered at Kuli Mela Germany.
“Sesa Das, a gurukuli who worked in the Austrian army for years as an instructor and recruiter, will be giving two seminars,” Damodara says. “One will be a fun and entertaining self-defense workshop. He is also an expert in memorization techniques, and will be giving a seminar on that too.”
Devotees gather for a festival at Simhachalam
Then there’s Madhusudhana Das, also a German gurukuli, who just finished his yoga teacher training in New York, and will be giving a yoga workshop.
As well as the workshops during the day, the evenings will be packed with entertainmnent.
Govinda and Vasudeva Clayton, gurukuli brothers from Vancouver, Canada will appear with their band The Ghost Brothers, a twist on their common middle name
“Ghosh”. Infusing a blend of pop, reggae, world, urban and surf rock with the Krishna conscious influences of their childhood, they’ll bring a positive, upfliting vibe.
Hip-hop artist Prayz 108, meanwhile, will rap in German with deep Krishna conscious lyrics which Damodara describes as “astonishing.”
Cows graze peacefully at Simhachalam, with the green Bavarian forest in the background
Kulis will also enjoy a magic show from Goura Hari Das, and a fashion show organized by Sita Dasi from Belgium which will feature gurukuli models and blend the catwalk with artistic circus-like performances.
Finally Mel Merio, an Austrian DJ and friend of Krishna, will have everyone dancing as she spins her spiritually-themed techno tunes.
Besides the entertainment and workshops, Kulis will also get to stretch their legs competing in a two-day football championship tournament (soccer for American readers). Six teams from different countries will compete through semi-finals and finals for a special prize.
At the German Kuli Mela, Kulis will also get the chance to interact with ISKCON leaders and discuss some very important questions.
“We want to establish a bridge between the two generations,” Damodara says. “I invited Sacinandana Swami and Dina Sharana Dasi, the GBC for Germany and Austria, to give a one-hour presentation on the current state of ISKCON, as well as where authorities envision ISKCON going in the future.”
After the presentation, questions will be discussed such as what is the role of the temple in today’s ISKCON? Are gurukulis welcome to take up active roles in ISKCON? If yes or no, why? Do gurukulis themselves want to have an active part in ISKCON? And how can gurukulis contribute to ISKCON in leading roles?
Damodara hopes Kulis will leave Kuli Mela Germany with a strong feeling that they’re not alone in the world, but have a big family they can rely on who share their backgrounds, challenges and gifts.
He would also like them to leave the Mela feeling that they are valuable people and loving children of Krishna.
“Many gurukulis don’t think of themselves as devotees, because they don’t have a strong sadhana (regular spiritual practice),” Damodara says. “But I want them to just appreciate the fact that they like Krishna, and to value whatever little they are doing. At the same time, I would love that each gurukuli goes home promising themselves to do a certain sadhana, however small it may be.”
Kulis are warmly invited to share their unique gifts, talents and abilities at Kuli Mela Germany. If you have something you’d like to share please contact Damodara at email@example.com.
Organizers also encourage Kulis to purchase their tickets for Kuli Mela Germany as quickly as possible to ensure them the financial ability to put on the best possible festival. Please purchase your four-day festival pass here: