The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
The earthquake that shook Los Angeles in January smashed decorative onyx arches and columns at the Hare Krsna temple to the floor, narrowly missing devotees gathered for early-morning worship. The quake struck at 4:31 A.M., just one minute after the worship had begun. Several devotees sprang up to the altar to steady the Deities. Had the quake hit a minute sooner, the altar doors would have been closed, and the Deities might have fallen; a minute later, and devotees would have been bowing, head to the floor, beneath chunks of falling onyx.
No devotees were hurt, and the temple and the buildings around it suffered no structural damage. Other damage to the temple, however, was extensive.
Amid the aftershocks directly following the quake, devotees brought the Deities for safety to the temple lawn, and later to a temple bus, where devotees served Them for several days, until the ground calmed down and the temple was cleaned of debris.
Members of ISKCON congregations in North America sponsored the distribution of 3,500 copies of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is in December, in honor of Gita-jayanti, the day on which Lord Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita.
One thousand people attended the tenth annual festival of Dassehra (Vijaya Dasami) last October at ISKCON Potomac, outside Washington, D.C. The festival commemorates Lord Ramacandra's killing of the demon Ravana. The highlight of the Potomac festival: the burning of a thirty-foot effigy of Ravana.
The first Tulasi temple in North America opened in December at the Hare Krsna temple in Dallas. Four hundred guests attended the ceremony.
Some two thousand guests took part in the annual Govardhana Puja festival held last November at the Hare Krsna temple in Houston. The festival celebrates Lord Krsna's pastime of lifting Govardhana Hill. For the festival, devotees offered 800 preparations of food to the Deities.
The Nepali ambassador to the United States stayed as an honored guest of members of the Hare Krsna community during his visit to Boston last December. The ambassador, Mr. Yog Prasad Upadhyaya, visited the ISKCON temple in Boston and resided at the home of Charlie Geer, a trustee of the ISKCON Foundation.
Devotees in New Orleans put on their annual Jagannatha Chariot Procession in February as part of the city's festivities for Mardis Gras.
ISKCON Atlanta will celebrate its annual Panihati rice-and-yogurt festival in June. For more information, check with ISKCON Atlanta.
The Festival of the Chariots will be held in cities throughout North America this summer. Contact your local Hare Krsna temple for details.
Devotees at Bhaktivedanta Manor have been campaigning with full energy to save the Manor from being closed to the public by the local borough council. The closure was to have gone into effect on March 16. At press time we still had not heard whether efforts to keep the Manor open had succeeded.
Bhaktivedanta Manor organized a tour to India this past winter for members of its Patron Council and Manor Youth Forum. The group visited Mayapur, Vrndavana, and various places in Gujarat.
London's Ahmadiyya Muslim Society invited ISKCON sannyasi Krsna Dasa Swami to speak at its mosque about Krsna consciousness. When he spoke, those present were pleased to learn that he hails from the Punjabi city of Kapurthala, which has links with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. A friendly interreligious dialogue ensued, and many attending purchased copies of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Devotees are renovating their temple on Inis Rath, ISKCON's sixty-acre island in Northern Ireland. The building was constructed in 1860. The renovation is the first step in a plan to develop the whole island. The plan calls for a restaurant, forest walks, a gurukula school, a Vedic training college, a caravan park for visitors, and a community where devotee families can own their own land and houses.
Two devotees from ISKCON Belgrade spent a week last November in Banja Luka, Bosnia, passing out prasadam 3,500 cookies to some 1,750 people, most of them elderly, orphaned, or wounded. The cookies were a rare treat; most people here have eaten only bread and rice for a year.
To get to Banja Luka, the devotees had to travel close to the front lines of war. They were helped by a man who became a devotee a year ago after a radio program he heard about devotees while in a trench.
Devotees from Germany and neighboring countries will converge at ISKCON's temple of Lord Nrsimhadeva in Bavaria on May 23 to celebrate the anniversary of Lord Nrsimhadeva's appearance. Lord Nrsimhadeva is the incarnation of Lord Krsna who appeared as half-lion, half-man to protect His devotee Prahlada.
A Srila Prabhupada Centennial Library opened at ISKCON Singapore in November, on the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's passing. The library houses all the books by Srila Prabhupada and many by his disciples.
Devotees in Malaysia held four Rathayatra festivals in four cities in December.
Devotees in Managua, Nicaragua, give out six hundred plates of Krsna prasadam every Sunday. Nearly three quarters of the country's work force is unemployed.
Fifty thousand people attended the two-day Rathayatra held last October in Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Guards escorted devotees through a dark, stuffy Moscow prison on New Year's Eve. The devotees were there passing out 1,500 small books and 3,000 prasadam sweets to the surprised prisoners.
Devotees in Russia distributed more than one million large hardbound volumes of Vedic scripture in 1993.
Some 25,000 devotees in Madras took part in ISKCON's Jagannatha Chariot Festival in January. Among the related events: a special program with the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Dr. M. Chenna Reddy, long an admirer of Srila Prabhupada.
More Jagannatha Chariot Festivals: Bangalore in January, Bombay in March. ISKCON Calcutta will hold its huge annual festival in July, at the same time as the festival in Jagannatha Puri.
Well over a thousand devotees from around the world gathered in April for ISKCON's annual Mayapur-Vrndavana festival.
The annual rice-and-yogurt festival will be celebrated in June in Panihati, near Calcutta, sponsored by ISKCON's Calcutta center.
In March and April, the Padayatra wound through the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Padayatra visited Ramesvaram (where Lord Ramacandra and His monkey army crossed the Indian Ocean for Lanka), Madurai (renowned for its temple of the goddess Minaksi), and the city of Tiruchchirappalli.
At the beginning of May the Padayatra will visit the pilgrimage city of Sri Rangam (the headquarters of the great teacher Ramanuja and site of the temple of Ranganatha). Then it will move north towards the state of Karnataka, where it will reach the state capital, Bangalore, by the beginning of June.
The European Padayatra began in Ireland in 1990 and is making its way to Moscow. Here's the upcoming schedule:
Mid-May Two weeks in Croatia
June One month in Slovenia
July Six to eight weeks in Hungary
September Three weeks in Slovakia.
For more information about Padayatra, contact:
62, Sant Nagar, New Delhi 110 065, India
Phone and fax: +91 (11) 647-0742
1111 Grand Ave., San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: +1 (619) 273-7262.
Bhaktivedanta Manor, Letchmore Heath, Watford, Herts. WD2 8EP, England. Phone: +44 (92) 385-7244
Srila Prabhupada's Centennial 1996
On September 24, devotees in France gathered at ISKCON's New Mayapur Farm to launch France's Srila Prabhupada Centennial Celebration. Devotees in France are focusing on eighteen projects to glorify Srila Prabhupada and push on his movement.
ISKCON Malaysia launched its Srila Prabhupada Centennial Campaign on New Year's Day in Kuala Lumpur. Sriman Subramanium, president of the Hindu Sangam, was the guest of honor. One thousand guests attended the ceremonies.
ISKCON Assam launched its Prabhupada Centennial Celebrations on January 9. The Chief Minister of Assam inaugurated the function.