ISKCON Ratha-yatra Highlights Guyana's Immigration Day
Guyana, South America ISKCON devotees here held their Ratha-yatra festival to coincide with national Immigration Day, a holiday organized by the government marking 150 years since persons from India first immigrated to Guyana. The program was the largest ever organized by the government here for Indians, who make up fifty percent of the population.
The festival lasted several days, and the government brought a hundred dignitaries from India, including Vice-President F. D. Sharma. Festival officials requested ISKCON devotees to greet the vice-president when he arrived at the festival by helicopter. When Agrani Swami, ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner for Guyana, introduced himself as a member of the Hare Krsna movement, the vice-president clasped his hand and shook it enthusiastically.
During the Immigration Day program, which looked like a typical ISKCON Ratha-yatra festival, the vice-president repeatedly complimented the devotees for their beautiful Ratha-yatra cart.
Hare Krsna Caters Hong Kong
Hong Kong Devotees at the ISKCON temple here, which had its grand opening in October 1987, have opened an exclusive catering service "The Higher Taste Vegetarian Dining Club." The temple is in the heart of the city's commercial district, and soon after opening the catering service, the devotees were swamped with orders for prasadam (food offered to Krsna) in the form of spring rolls, steamed buns, sweet-and-sour dishes, and other selections from their menu of authentic Chinese cuisine. The prasadam is prepared in a kitchen at the back of the temple.
In the reception area, customers watch ISKCON Television's documentary on vegetarianism, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, dubbed into Cantonese. They also browse through or purchase some of the cookbooks produced by ISKCON devotees, especially the popular Chinese edition of The Higher Taste.
Customers often hear about the catering service from the devotees who go out every day in traditional Vaisnava dress to distribute Srila Prabhupada's books. Many books have already been translated into Chinese, including Bhagavad-gita; Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; Light of the Bhagavata; and The Science of Self-Realization. A chanting party of Chinese devotees goes out twice a week into the streets of this city of six million.
Devotees Visit U.S. Federal Prison
Memphis, Tennessee Four devotees, headed by Sankarsana dasa of ISKCON Dallas, recently held a program at the Federal Correctional Institution here. They were hosted by inmate Stephen Szili, who has followed the principles of Krsna consciousness in prison for the past three years. Stephen holds regular meetings of inmates interested in Krsna consciousness.
The program lasted from 1:00 P.M until 7:00 P.M., with forty inmates in attendance. After an enthusiastic chanting session led by Gayatri dasa (playing the inmates' mrdanga drum), Sankarsana dasa spoke on theBhagavad-gita and answered questions. Everyone then enjoyed a feast of prasadam that had been cooked by Stephen and his friends and offered to Stephen's Deities of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda. Many of the inmates expressed their appreciation for the joyful chanting and the interesting and authoritative explanation of the Vedic philosophy
Kamala-mala dasa, a devotee from the Soviet Union, spoke with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher on a BBC call-in radio show. He thanked the prime minister for her defense of human rights in his country. Kamala-mala was formerly incarcerated in a Soviet psychiatric hospital because of his practicing Krsna consciousness. He reminded Mrs. Thatcher that six Soviet devotees remain prisoners despite Gorbachev's reforms.
* * *
The local chapter of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, headed by Sri Chunibhai C. Patel, an ISKCON life member, played an active role in organizing this year's Ratha-yatra in Baroda, Gujarat, helping with the publicity and engaging a hundred volunteers. As has become the tradition in Baroda, the mayor, Dr. Rajendrashih Rathod (also an ISKCON life member) swept the road before the cart. Local religious leaders, including a delegation of Sikhs, garlanded Lord Jagannatha. All the main newspapers of Baroda ran front-page photos of the preparations for the parade. Special guest Sriman Aniruddhacarya Venkatacarya, 85-year-old head of the Ramanujacarya Sampradaya Matha in Baroda, joined the procession from beginning to end.
* * *
After spending the sacred month of Kartika (October 25-November 23) walking through the twelve forests of Vrndavana, Srila Prabhupada's Sankirtana Pada-yatra (ISKCON's walking pilgrimage of holy India) will head for the Kumbha-mela in Allahabad, the site of the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. Held in January, the Kumbha-mela is the largest religious festival in the world.
* * *
Devotees were on hand at the beginning and at the end of Sydney's annual "City to Surf" six-mile run, which draws more than 37,000 contestants from around the world. Running past the party of chanting devotees at the beginning of the course, they waved and shouted friendly greetings. At the end of the course, devotees presented garlands to the winners of different categories, and thousands of runners received Srila Prabhupada's books. Back to Godhead magazines, and with great appreciation prasadam in the form of oranges and drinks.