The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
A BTG columnist has won first place in the "international" category at the annual James Beard/Farberware Book Awards. The columnist, Yamuna Devi, won this "Oscar of the culinary world" with her book Yamuna's Table. More than one thousand of America's most influential culinary professionals attended the award ceremonies, held in New York City in May.
A video on cow slaughter and the environment took third place among 370 entries in a Canadian national video contest. The three Hare Krsna devotees who produced the video received a $1000 award from the Canadian Governor General at a banquet in Toronto. The organizers of the contest are sending copies of the video to every school and public library in Canada.
Deaf people are getting better opportunities to take to Krsna consciousness thanks to the efforts of Bhakta Dinesh and Jagannatha Krsna Dasa. Dinesh, who is deaf, taught Jagannatha Krsna sign language. Now the two of them have organized a monthly gathering of deaf people interested in Krsna consciousness. Kavita Kohli, a social worker and interpreter for the deaf, helps with the programs.
EMI Records has re-released "The Radha Krishna Temple" album, originally produced by George Harrison for Apple Records in 1971.
Srila Prabhupada's first Hungarian disciple was killed in a car accident this winter. The disciple, Sripada B. A. Narayana Swami, formerly known as Bhakti Dayal Swami, had been a pioneer in spreading Krsna consciousness in Hungary.
More than two hundred students and professors attended conferences on Krsna consciousness last winter in Spain at the University of Barcelona and the University of Tarragona. The conferences were organized by the departments of anthropology.
Ten thousand visitors viewed a Vedic art exhibit organized by ISKCON devotees in January at an art gallery in Gdynia, Poland. The mayor opened the exhibit. Large audiences attended Krsna conscious programs each evening.
One out of every twenty Latvians has received a book about Krsna. Since 1990, the year before Latvia gained independence, the devotees have sold 70,000 books and 60,000 magazines and newspapers.
The ISKCON temple in Sarajevo is still open. "In this war," writes Bhakta Sevko, "the temple is functioning like in peace. Every day we are holding programs, and every Sunday we are having a feast. By the mercy of the spiritual masters and all of the devotees who are thinking of us, we have remained untouched."
Commonwealth of Independent States
Hare Krishna Food for Life feeds as many as two hundred people a day in Dzershynsk, Russia, a city once closed to visitors. Dzershynsk was formerly the site of factories for chemical weapons. Now guests enjoy prasadam at a center-city cafe called Younost. Before the guests eat, devotees give a ten-minute explanation of Krsna consciousness. One group of devotees sings the Hare Krsna mantra while another group serves the prasadam.
Belarus radio broadcasts weekly shows about Krsna conscious philosophy.
Devotees in Sukhumi, Georgia, have been feeding more than a thousand people daily, in the midst of a civil war.
Residents of Vijayawada witnessed ISKCON's first Rathayatra festival in their city last January. Vijayawada, on the sacred River Krishna in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is named for Arjuna, also known as Vijaya. The festival was inaugurated by Dr. P. V. Ranga Rao, the state's education minister and son of India's prime minister.
Laksmi Shankar sang devotional songs for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha at the two-day Rathayatra festival in Coimbatore, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Devotees from Trivandrum camped in a shed for two months last winter in the cold Sabarimala Hills of Kerala. The devotees were there to sell Srila Prabhupada's books and teach Krsna consciousness to some of the millions of pilgrims who climb the hills on an arduous pilgrimage to worship the demigod Ayyappa. The devotees manned their stall around the clock to cater to the constant stream of pilgrims.
A "Prabhupada Ratha" a chariot carrying an image of Srila Prabhupada has begun touring eastern India. The tour began in April from Sridhama Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as one of the programs leading up to the Srila Prabhupada Centennial Year, 1996.
Durban's biggest cultural festival Rathayatra celebrated its fifth year last December. Devotees estimate that 178,000 people received free plates of Krsna prasadam during the five-day event. Durban's director of publicity praised devotees for organizing "the most exciting, peace-promoting, and successful festival in Durban."
Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, has an ISKCON center again, after fifteen years. The temple stands in a quiet residential neighborhood near the center of the city.
Devotees in Cuenca, Ecuador, have started a new Krsna conscious farm in a valley at the confluence of two rivers.
After a tour through Bihar, the Padayatra walked down through Orissa to attend the Rathayatra festival in Jagannatha Puri. Now the Padayatra is traveling south through the state of Andhra Pradesh.
At press time the padayatris, after their walk through Central America, were resting in Panama and planning a tour of South America.
The Padayatra spent three weeks in April and May around London, and then June in Sweden. On July 7 it starts a month-long tour of Czech, ending on August 10, Janmastami, the appearance day of Lord Krsna. Next comes two weeks in Luxemburg, and then back to England.
Padayatra New Zealand
In March, devotees completed their six-week walk through the North Island. Every two or three days they held programs in town halls, attended by one hundred to two hundred guests. The walk ended in Auckland, where the Padayatra became a Rathayatra parade, led by Mayor Les Mills and his wife, Colleen. In his welcome address the mayor told the devotees, "We're with you in body and spirit!"
After the festival some devotees set out again, walking beside the bullock cart. They plan to visit every town and village in New Zealand.