The transition to a new calendar year is traditionally marked by grand festivities. For Toronto's Hare Krishna community it is always something to write home about... even if it takes a few weeks to write about (we apologize for the delayed report).
Festivities began on December 31st with the third annual Bhajan and Prasadam Festival. It all started at midday as a small group of devotees gathered to begin intimate kirtan. Throughout the day the temple reverberated with the blissful sounds of kirtan and the smells of karma-free vegetarian feasts filled the air. As the day continued the crowd grew and the kirtan also picked up momentum, reaching a crescendo as we prepared for the exciting annual maha midnight harinama at City Hall.
At around 11:00pm, 75 kirtan enthusiasts bundled up and headed for Rosedale subway station to make their way to City Hall. The kirtan began in the packed subway car and exploded in jubilation as we arrived at our usual spot just outside Old City Hall. Led by Bhaktimarga Swami, the ecstatic group of chanters drew a remarkable crowd as the chanting drew people in. At the stroke of midnight fireworks filled the sky and tens of thousands of people then poured onto the streets from Nathan Phillips Square and passed right by the harinama troupe! Soon, the devotees were surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of new years eve revellers who happily joined the chanting and dancing! Around 2:00am when the group returned to the temple, the kirtan once again reached a pinnacle as we poured into the temple entrance!
The festivities continued on January 1st with the annual Srila Prabhupada Festival. Many spiritualists choose to invoke the new year in an auspicious way and so it is no surprise that the festivities annually draw a packed house. The festivities featured a presentation about Srila Prabhupada as well as an enlivening class by Bhaktimarga Swami. This was followed by a light-hearted skit about book distribution in honour of the recent December Book Marathon where over 3,000 books were distributed.
Following the drama, the crowd assembled around Srila Prabhupada as Guru-Puja (traditional worship of the spiritual master) was performed. The evening was capped of with an ecstatic 8:00pm arati and a sumptuous vegetarian feast!
Check out the slideshow below for highlights from the evening, or click here for the simple gallery.