Seeking The Essence

Clearing Life's Webs and Weeds….

The Significance of Kulimela

kulimela-kids.jpg

I wrote this to Professor Burke Rochford in July 2006 as a response to his question about the significance of Kulimela for the gurukuli generation.

What distinguishes Kulimela festivals from Gurukuli Reunions is the intent. Over the years, Reunions have been an important way for Gurukulis to connect with each other. Kulimela goes beyond that by showcasing the talents and abilities of our generation. It is an inclusive event, drawing on devotees from all walks of life. Kulimela is a means to legitimize and affirm our presence in the greater Vaishnava society. It is one way for our generation to serve and improve our community. Through positive examples we hope to renovate and expand the perception of what it means to be a part of ISKCON.

While the inauguration of Kulimela is a bold statement that will continue to resonate throughout ISKCON, there is still much that needs to be addressed. The complex history that connects us also keeps us apart. Several times during a “Community and Spiritual Development Conference” held at Kulimela 2006 in New Vrindaban West Virginia, USA, ISKCON leaders – in very direct terms – urged our generation to stop waiting for them to empower us within ISKCON. Instead, they urged us to go out and make our own mark on the world. Though I may not entirely agree with this mindset, I understand it.  I firmly believe that we would all be much better off if we all work together in a cooperative manner.  Still, our efforts in organizing Kulimela reflect this as something we must contend with. By maintaining a sense of “entitlement,” our generation has often felt frustrated and marginalized within the confines of the ISKCON institutional structure. The more we are able to change our perspective and depend less on the validation of others, the more we become empowered, fulfilled and productive in our lives.

The Kulimela organizers are determined to continue facilitating and inspiring people around a central theme of coming together and serving others. Along these lines, a humorous (and inspirational) saying came from Kulimela 2006, “Hello, I’m a Kuli (Coolie). May I help you carry your baggage?” As we go about our day-to-day lives, there will undoubtedly be opportunities where shared interests can be worked on together. Our hope is that by working cooperatively we will be able to build healthier relationships, which, in turn, will help to redefine and revitalize our fragmented Society.

My personal interest in helping with Kulimela is to begin focusing on the next generation. It is a top priority for the organizers to create safe, secure and suitable facilities for our children. I firmly believe that our lives will be most visibly reflected in what we do for future generations. If we can lay the proper groundwork for a well balanced, prosperous and productive community then we will give our children an excellent basis from which they can become leading lights in the world.

Towards this goal, the Kulimela Kid’s Camp crew entertained and cared for approximately 35 kids each day. Running the Camp required more than 30 part time volunteers and one full time organizer (me!). Over the course of two and a half days the kid’s got to experience dramatic storytelling, singing, arts and crafts, a Palace tour, gardening, animal caring and feeding, a hayride, and much, much more. It was an amazing (and exhausting) experience. I hope that our efforts encourage and inspire others to give more attention to the children, who are the future of our Society.

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August 28, 2006 - Posted by | Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Kulimela, New Vrindaban

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