New Orleans, Louisiana
Our small drama troupe was invited to New Orleans for their third annual Ratha Yatra. Travelling with me via air from Buffalo with stop-over in Cleveland was Dhruva and Yogendra, our two Nova Scotian monks, Sing Lung Wong, who is a lay member from our Toronto community and Nitai Priya, the receptionist at our temple.
The air was fresh after exiting from Louis Armstrong Airport. It was cooler than us Canucks had anticipated. We were treated to the local temple prasadam (sanctified food) and then set out for walking the French Quarter.
New Orleans is certainly a music town. You hear brass music in and outside venues. Brass and beer are the features of this birthplace of jazz and various forms of blues. It came to mind that jazz is really an expression of emotions rendered artistically. We say in Vaishnava (devotee) circles that Jagannath (a name of Krishna) is the master of the universe. Could we stretch it to say that God is the source of all sentiments and emotions and therefore we could call him Jazzanath?
It was a thought.
It became evident to me that our tiny group of pilgrim tourists had musical abilities. With no determined or scheduled service outside of the morning talk from the Gita, we decided to drive back to the temple to pick up mridanga drums. Our two Scotia monks went to N Peters Street and we, with our vocals and tambourine, played and sang up a storm. People were so warmed up to it. It convinced me that the sankirtana (collective chanting) is well-received in this city that breaths out music. 24/7.
New Orleans, we love you...
Another thought came to mind as devotees of Krishna we never need to feel that sight-seeing is complete in itself, unless of course, we're speaking about tirthas (sacred places). We always have something to contribute wherever we are. We pick up some instruments and sit down somewhere and project out devotional songs.