We arrived at 7:30 AM with our two buses at Alachua, the same place from where we started our month's journey. We have gone full circle. Hot and sweaty even after a shower, we trudged our way across the uneven but low grassy lawn to the temple of Krsna Balaram. It's Janmastami, Krishna's birthday, and the atmosphere in the temple was one of, can I say, jollity.
Like all over the world the celebrations of Janmasthami draws millions of people. Here in this relatively remote area of Florida, cars parked outside this tiny temple while their occupants were inside to honour Sri Krishna with kirtan and offerings of flower petals and all the love that goes with them.
That love, or bhakti, kept on rolling for hours on into midnight, the stroke of His birth. And our group of young men and women demonstrated this flow of commitment with their last performance of "The Three Lives of Bharat". As I sat on the side of the stage to the outdoor pavillion executing my usual intermittent narration I could see the actors give it their all before a very responsive audience. Perspiration dripped off their bodies under the intense lights precipitated by the already humid nature factor.
This play has been our consistent project throughout the last month, something that has glued us together as a group forming an harmonious bond. The drama has been a story repeated over with our regular performances telling a story of an ascetic (Bharat), in India caught in a hard place and who then evolved through a succession of three lives and was able to overcome personal handicaps through the mercy of the Supreme. The story from the book Bhagavatam is just ideal for our youth group who individually all have their own personal intersections of life to deal with.
I was proud of the actors being up on the stage with them for the final bow. As the sun seemed to bow at the same time it offered slight relief and was a queue for me to take a 6 kilometre walk in the area along with friend Kevin from buffalo and Anil, a local pharmacist. It was time to get away from crowds before returning to them. In the back road of snake and alligator world. we committed to mantra chanting.
Back again and scoring well on the full day fast, the clock then struck 12 followed by an outburst of devotional emotions. A feast after the fast and a few words with members of "The Mayapuris" a rather successful up and coming kirtan band marked the end of a long but quick day. And then to bed, reminding myself it's His day.