By Shobana Muratee for Indo American news
The Mayapuris, a kirtan band, distinguished by their powerful mridangum beats in punk rock style, performed to a packed audience gathered at the temple’s Gauranga Hall.
HOUSTON: After a exhaustive day at Ifest (Houston International Festival) on Sunday, May 8th, serving delicious vegetarian food at the ‘Holy Cow’, singing kirtans and passing out information on Krishna consciousness in the sweltering heat, members of the Hare Krishna Dham, Houston were treated to a delightful evening of spiritual upliftment at the temple.
The Mayapuris, a kirtan band, distinguished by their powerful mridangum beats in punk rock style, performed to a packed audience gathered at the temple’s Gauranga Hall. Currently, on their ‘Southern Hospitality Tour’, the Mayapuris, will be moving next to perform in Dallas. Graced by the presence of His Holiness Rtadhvaja Maharaja, senior disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of ISKCON, the Mayapuris gave a memorable performance of pure and uplifting music.
Dedicating the program to mothers, the Mayapuris sang the kirtan ‘Jai Sri Krishna bolo Jai Radha’ to the delight of the entire audience that joined them in unison. The Mayapuris accompanied by the ‘Temple Dancers Troupe’ presented a breathtaking ballet by Vrinda, a Bharatnatyam exponent from world’s finest Bharatnatyam dance institution in India, Kalakshetra Academy. The ballet choreographed by the Mayapuris and performed by Vrinda depicted nature, its creativity and its mindless destruction by the demon Hiranyaksha when it was eventually being restored by Varaha (Krishna avatar) was visually mesmerizing and equally enriching.
Chief Guest, Col Raj Bhalla, president, India Culture Center, commented that the Mayapuris were, “Simply awesome and spiritually charged.” In his address, he recounted his first impressions about the people of Krishna consciousness during the 60s and remembered them as “young men and women of shaved heads, with saffron robes chanting Hare Krishna outside malls.” Col. Bhalla then narrated the story of a boatman and scholar often told by Srila Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of ISKCON to his followers that he found very interesting. Col. Bhalla said, “It is heartening to know of the spiritual service of the people of ISKCON,” Especially, in this kaliyuga when truth and morality are at their lowest,” he added. He also gave a brief outline of the India Culture Center and its various activities. His Grace Shayamsunder Dasa, temple president, welcomed and honored the Chief Guest and spoke a few words on the occasion.
Named after the very town that brought modern kirtan to the world 500 years ago, the Mayapuris launched the band performing academic-style music demonstrations but quickly developed their own wild showmanship style. With a deadly combination of talent and tenacity, the Mayapuris: Vishvambhar Das (Vish), Balarama Tirtha Das (Bali), and Krsna Kishore Das (Kish) are on their ‘Southern Hospitality Tour’, promoting their album Mridanga, created and dedicated to Krishna consciousness into which they all grew up.
Vish grew up in two worlds: his father a Vedic priest, his mother an Italian-American, enjoying a childhood in India and teen years in the American South, a student of classical sitar and bass player in a straight-edge hardcore band. By nine he was living in an ashram in Krishna’s childhood home of Vrindavan, India, where he studied Sanskrit, Vedic texts and traditional Indian instruments until returning to the States in time for punk rock teenhood.
Kish and his brother Bali, both native Columbians, were raised by their artistic parents in a small Krishna community in central Florida, to sing and chant kirtans every day. At twelve, Kish set off with Bali for spiritual schooling in the holy city of Mayapur in West Bengal, India. For two years Kish engulfed himself in studying traditional music and martial arts. His music is inspired by the Gypsy Kings and Santana, Kish adds Latin passion and reggaeton layers to the Mayapuri sound.
Bali grew up in a small Krishna community in central Florida. The Ricco’s first born showed signs of a child prodigy when in second grade he read on a seventh grade level. When Bali was called to study in Mayapur, he took notes from the elderly Bengali Vaisnavas. Bali returned to the US and enrolled in a traditional American university, graduating with a 4.0 and a psychology degree. He’s half way to a doctorate in pharmacology. Bali brings non-traditional rhythms, contemporary harmonies, dance, drama and lightheartedness to the Mayapuris.
Vrinda born to an artistic family grew up in Swedish Krishna community, a rural ashram with its own dairy cows, lake, school and temple where the few dozen devotees took all of their meals together. Dance is so interwoven with Vrinda’s soul that even crossing the street looks naturally choreographed. As the
Mayapuris gelled into a band; it became clear that Vrinda’s dance style had the power to transfix audiences around the globe. For more info you visit Mayapuris.com.
The Hare Krishna Dham, Houston is known to bring such rich cultural and spiritual experiences to its devotees and residents in Houston. The Mayapuris was yet another spiritual extravaganza organized by them this year. Sasi Murali along with her team, emcee Swati Murali, the Jiv Jago (musical group) and others gave a fitting tribute to Mother’s Day that was well appreciated by the jubilant audience. Prior to this final program the Mayapuris had wowed audiences at Ifest, and several yoga studios in Houston.