MORE THAT 35,000 PEOPLE packed Moscow's Olympic Stadium in mid-July for a Hare Krsna music festival, the climax of a week-long tour that had thousands chanting and dancing in St. Petersburg, Riga, and Kiev.
In each city, a traditional Bharata Natyam dance opened the program, which then moved on to devotional songs with Indian instruments. Then the Krsna Vision multimedia show merged a Russian soundtrack with slides from twelve projectors to tell of reincarnation and karma. And last the Gauranga Bhajan Band, a mantra-rock music group, got the crowd chanting, dancing, jumping, and running hand-in-hand in joyful circles to the sound of the Hare Krsna mantra.
In Moscow, popular musician Boy George headed the bill, and Olympic Stadium sold out. As large scoreboards flashed "Hare Krsna" and "Hare Rama" in Cyrillic, Boy George sang songs like "My Sweet Lord" and "Bow Down Mister" and then led the crowd in chanting Hare Krsna. The 35,000 people in the stadium formed the largest group ever assembled to chant the Hare Krsna mantra.
Hare Krsna leaders in Moscow say there are 15,000 dedicated Hare Krsna people in the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics. Millions more study Krsna conscious books at home. Since 1990, devotees have sold more than five million books in Russian.