First Ever Princeton University Diwali Kirtan

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November 18th, 2008

The Princeton University Chapel or Cathedral if you will. Setting out the Diwali Lamps

“This is the first hindu program to ever be held in the chapel” Vineet, the organizer of the Diwali celebration that night said enthusiastically while we set up the stage for the program that night. I looked around thinking they had gotten the name wrong. What they called a “chapel” was as much a cathedral as I had ever seen. Chapel was definitely a modest way of putting it. The scenery of Princeton University was a wonderful place for taking pictures and I imagined that I could feel the pride that was held by the students who learned in this place and honed their intellects into something that would make their University proud in return.

L to R: Kamaniya, Janaki Priya, Gaura Vani, Acyuta Gopi, Ananta Govinda, Ray Ippolito Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits at Princeton University

That night we started the kirtan with the traditional hindi bhajan “He Govinda, He Gopal.” Growing up listening to Jagjit Singh, Gaura and I gave each other fond smiles and we sang the beautiful lullaby tune that ushered in all of the guests who had come that night to celebrate the Indian festival of lights with us. My mind was lost in the acoustics of the chapel. Looking up at the high arches and the organ pipes I would listen as the beats of the mrdanga ricocheted off of every stonewall and then implanted themselves within my heart. I smiled knowing that this space had to be built just for God.

Offering Diyas Caitanya Bhagavan performing Aratik

The priest that night, a friend of ours from the D.C. area, Caitanya Bhagavan led the group that night in the five peace mantras for the well being of the evening before he performed the arati on the small altar that was formed. The chapel echoed with voices chanting “Om Shanti Shanti Shantih” for the first time. Everyone from all walks of life, from all nationalities gathered in that chapel in Princeton University to usher in this new era. It was one of the most beautiful ceremonies I had ever witnessed.

L to R: Kamaniya, Janaki Priya, Gaura Vani, Acyuta Gopi, Ananta Govinda, Ray Ippolito Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits at Princeton University

The night ended with an energetic demonstration of classical Indian dancing. As the dancers clad in bright and colorful costumes danced it seemed that everyone in the chapel was glued to their seats watching the wonderful formations as they made their special offering to God. The dancers balanced pots on their heads, danced with lit candles, and pulled everyone’s hearts in and made this a real celebration. Smiles and not lamps were now lighting the chapel as I looked around and saw the joy that was effulgent on the faces of everyone in the room.

Dancers take over the crowd. Dancers take over the crowd.

During the celebration that night Vineet, our ceremony aficionado said that this was the time to ask God into our hearts to keep out the demons of pride, envy, anger and to reestablish compassion within all of us. He encouraged us to look deep within ourselves and gather the strength and courage to be better people and to help others better themselves and as I looked at everyone who had gathered and thought about the monumental event that was taking place to broaden the minds of those who came to Princeton that night for a new kind of celebration I really felt as though this were the dawning of a new era, and I felt as though what Vineet was asking was very possible.

Happy Kirtan
Acyuta Gopi

Dancers take over the crowd. After the official end, the crowd moved closer for more Kirtan.

Gaura Vani and Ray Ippolito jaming out. After the official end, the crowd moved closer for more Kirtan.

After the official end, the crowd moved closer for more Kirtan. Gaura Vani after the show.

Caitanya Bhagavan das talking with Ray Ippolito after the event.

Gaura Vani – Invocation

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Gaura Vani – Dina Dayal

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Gaura Vani – Acyuta Gopi – Siksastakam

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Gaura Vani – Ayodya Vasi Ram

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Acyuta Gopi – Hare Krishna

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4 Comments on “First Ever Princeton University Diwali Kirtan”


  1. Radha Divine says:

    Oh no… its supposed to be HARE KRISHNA…. LOVE

  2. Radha Divine says:

    LOVE THIS LIGHT BEAM STREAM OF DIVINE EXPRESSION…

    Hare Krishna

  3. Jahnabi Barooah says:

    I LOVED your music. I can still recall it almost exactly as if it happened moments ago. Keep playing.

  4. paresha das says:

    Dear Gauravani, so beautiful place and bhajan!



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