Organizing A Monthly Sankirtan Festival

The Monthly Sankirtana Festival (MSF)is a fun way to do book distribution that gets everyone, including the congregation, involved. These festivals are based on the strategy that it’s best to have a lot of devotees each doing a little bit.

ISKCON Silicon Valley, (ISV ) has pioneered this strategy and now averages about 500 books and $3,000 each festival. Just two and a half years ago they were sending nothing to the BBT.

The festivals are best when they last three days, Friday to Sunday. Devotees chant near each book table, which features a professional display of books and is accompanied by several devotees who are specially trained to meet and greet people and to distribute cookies, invitations, and books.

In ISV festivals every cookie or book that distributed is labeled with the temple’s contact information. The Hari Nama performance draws lots of people over who naturally want to find out more.These people happily buy books and go away with prasadam and an invitation to the temple.

Sankirtan Festivals, whether monthly or less, are fairly straight forward, but they depend heavily on preparation. Team members put stickers on books, bake a few thousand cookies, and obtain permits for distribution spots; they also send out postcard reminders to the congregation, hand out flyers at temple functions, organize book inventories, educate new members, and many other things.

Moreover, to keep everyone enthused, every three months or so a special Devotee Appreciation Day should be held for everyone who has participated in the Sankirtana Festival in any way. Each devotee gets a chance to express his or her appreciation for the service or the other devotees and team members. And, of course, kirtan and prasadam are enjoyed together.

Monthly Sankirtan Festivals can happen everywhere. It’s the future, because many temples now have fewer temple devotees but more congregational members. This encourages the masses to participate. Even those who can’t go out for book distribution directly can help by offering service or donating Laxmi for the cause.