The Street Scene (Book distribution in Manali )

Posted on July 26, 2013 by navalatika

Submitted by Anita dasi

Going day after day we made many friends with people on the street here in Manali. Many shop keepers expressed appreciation for the devotional mood kirtan brought to the street. Later when the police tried to give us some problems they quickly helped us connect with local authorities to give us proper permission to be there.

 

There are many vendors and beggars who daily move up and down this busy tourist area. They would say Hare Krsna as they walked by, sometime stop and listen to kirtan. A highlight was when one evening about 5 of the message vendors completely forgot about soliciting customers and sat and clapped and chanted with us for about an hour. A few of the vendors are good drummers, so we bought a simple doloc drum and they would sit and sometimes drum for the kirtan.

My biggest frustration was that most of the street vendors who we came to know cannot read. When distributing books I feel I am entrusted with great jewels to pass along to those we meet. Of course kirtan and especially maha-mantra is so powerful, but many people to catch the mantra we give them a flier or show them in a book. One shoe polish vendor was sitting next to me one day for more than an hour. He was trying to sing along but could not quite catch the order of the mantra. After many different attempts I was finally able to find a way to help him learn the order by drawing a circle for Hare, a line for Krsna and an X Rama. In our new simple language the maha-mantra became:

O – O –

– – OO

O X O X

X X OO

I was so happy when he finally caught it and was able to nicely join the kirtan. 

 

There are many children begging on the street. They would often stop and watch me. They also could not read, but they loved the pictures. Sometimes I would use the Prahald coloring books and in my supper limited Hindi, showing the pictures try to narrate the story of Prahlad Maharaja. One day a few of them spent about an hour picking up each and every book, finding the pictures and asking me about them.

A shop keeper who could read a bit of Punjabi (but not the Hindi or English books we had) would often stop by. Sometimes he would sit for 10 or 15 minutes of kirtan. I was always feeling frustrated that I could not give him a book. One day I had the idea to give him a small poster of Gaura Nitai. I explained a little bit about who Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityanada prabhu are. I told him to always keep the posters, that they are very merciful, and will always help him. A few days after I went to visit him in his shop and I saw not only had he kept the poster but he hung it in the very center of his shop with the flier listing our mathas in India.

Thinking what more we could do to help all the vendors we would see daily on the street, on the day of Jaganatha ratha-yatra Gayatri dasi made and offered a whole bunch of the the gajak sweet that Jaganatha deva is famous for. We brought it to town. We told everyone one about the special day and distributed the sweets.

Even though we distributed many books to locals and especially the constant flow of tourists, I felt it was the people on the street we had the most connection with despite the fact that most of them cannot read. I learned how merciful Lord Caitanya was to give  prashada and kirtan.