No Obstacle Course
Thunder Bay, Ontario
People love Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. He’s adorable, a little chubby, accessible, exotic and full of good luck. Luke was selling Ganesh in his figurine form off the table at a stall. The Krishna Culture Festival of India in its 4th year running is going down the trail of continued success. I had walked Cumberland Avenue from Victoria Avenue, the location of our new meditation room/Indian Store, Sanskriti, to destination Marina Park to attend the fest.
My only real obligation, an agreement made with organizer Prem Kishor was to start the event with lighting a dhiya, a cotton ghee wick before milling around in the crowd. The flame represents the presence of God. Dignitaries from the city councils and other various VIPs also lit their wicks and then spoke. When the mic passed over to me, I mentioned that this program is staged to lift the body, mind and spirit.
The emcee was Jordan as was the case last year. Since that time he has become a lawyer. He showed up in smart looking kurta and jeans. Last year it was a kurta and shorts. As we sat down for a minute or two, the jeans at the knee revealed a hole. He joked after this discovery that the hole makes it all the more chic, and that if he were to have a pair of pants with paint splashes on it, it would be commercially a piece of top dollar clothing.
People came to check out the food, samosas even outdid Ganesh in sales. Books were also picked up, Chant and Be Happy, a pocket sized BBT book has the Beatles on the cover, along with our guru Srila Prabhupada. That was selling along with Gitas and cookbooks.
The volunteers, numbering at least 50, are newly arrived Indian students who were doing just about everything to cater to a Canadian crowd of ancestry from Finland, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, England, Quebec, and First Nations. I spent a good hour with a couple who fore-parents hailed from the swamp and muskeg up North. They were intrigued with the dance and music on the stage – traditional story telling about the pastimes of Krishna. The park provides a natural beautiful background of the Earth’s largest body of water, Lake Superior, and there we find the Sleeping Giant, a massive rock formation, which is according to legend, a retiring native chief, there to rest for a while. To one couple I met, typical fair haired Thunder Bay residents, who know something about deities from India, I remarked, “You’ve got your very own reclining Vishnu here."
There was no beer served, no meat, and I don’t think anyone was missing what to some of us are taboos. All had a good time, all 5,000+, not bad for a city of 100,000 people. There seemed to be no obstacles. It is said that Ganesh removes hurdles on the path of devotion. That seemed to apply at the festival today.