The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
Festivals For Srila Prabhupada's Appearance Day
Devotees at ISKCON centers around the world held festivals on September 5-6 for the one-hundredth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's appearance. We mention only a few of the festivals here.
People from Calcutta joined a thousand international devotees to honor Srila Prabhupada in his home town. Some 37,000 people in all attended programs on two evenings. Children from fifty schools attended a daytime event. The Prime Minister of India, the Honorable H. D. Deve Gowda, sent his respects. He wrote, "Swami Prabhupada spread the message of self-realization, and our nation is proud of his contribution, which enabled millions of men and women to realize their spiritual potential."
The highlight of the festival: a Vedic ceremony bathing the murti (sculptured form) of Srila Prabhupada with 1,008 sacred waters. The waters were collected from holy places throughout India, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
A flower-bedecked cart carried Prabhupada's murti down Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg from Mithibai College to the ISKCON temple in Juhu. The three ISKCON temples in Mumbai joined in the festival.
Devotees in Bangalore cooked and offered nearly two thousand dishes for Srila Prabhupada's pleasure on his appearance day.
At the festival here, devotees noted that Srila Prabhupada's appearance one hundred years ago coincided with the arrival of a book by his predecessor Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura at McGill University, Montreal. Dr. Arvind Sharma, lecturer and professor at McGill, spoke about Srila Prabhupada and the early days of ISKCON.
Devotees in Ecuador held a week-long festival in Guayaquil. The festival began with the installation of a life-size murti of Srila Prabhupada and ended with a grand parade down the main street of the city.
Ten leading Christian scholars met with ten senior members of the Hare Krsna movement in September for a conference on "The Destiny of the Soul." Reports from the three-day conference, held outside Boston, will be published in academic journals.
An ISKCON chanting party from Atlanta began touring the American south in November. The party plans to take the chanting of Hare Krsna throughout the continental USA. Interested in joining or supporting the party? Contact Sudhanidhi Dasa at 1287 S. Ponce de Leon Ave. N.E., Atlanta, GA 30306, USA; phone: (404) 378-9234.
Five thousand guests celebrated Janmastami, Lord Krsna's appearance day, at ISKCON Houston's new Gauranga Community Hall.
Devotees in Hungary installed Radha-Krsna Deities at New Vraja Dhama, their farm two hours from Budapest, on Janmastami.
Devotees in Slovenia have been holding gatherings, called Nama Hatta programs, in their homes since 1993. At first there were three such meetings, one in each of three towns. Now there are thirteen.
The state of Gujarat declared a holiday for ISKCON's Rathayatra festival in Vadodara (Baroda). Government offices, schools, and colleges closed. The education minister, the mayor, and other leading citizens of Vadodara attended the celebration. On the same day, ISKCON also held a Rathayatra festival in Surat.
Other Rathayatra festivals: Indore in October and Kanpur in November.
ISKCON's new temple in New Delhi will open on April 2.
ISKCON's new center in Ahmedabad is scheduled to open the second week of April.
ISKCON's new temple in Bangalore is scheduled to open on April 4. Meanwhile, a quarter of a million people celebrated Janmastami at the unfinished temple site.
Devotees held Rathayatra in Dhaka in July, for the first time in this predominantly Muslim country. The parade went down Motijeel, one of Dhaka's largest streets.
Devotees handed out six tons of prasadam oranges to runners in Sydney's annual City to Surf Fun Run.
Bhava Priya Dasi, who coordinated festivals for ISKCON's center in Sydney, passed away in Mayapur, India, in July. Family and friends chanted at her side. She is survived by her son, daughter, and husband, all devotees.
Deities of Sri Krsna-Balarama were installed in Gaberone, Botswana, in October. ISKCON leaders Sripada Giriraja Swami and Sripada Krsnadasa Swami presided at the ceremonies. Sri Haridasa Adhikari, president of ISKCON's center in Coventry, England, served as the priest for the installation.
ISKCON Durban, South Africa, celebrated its annual Rathayatra festival on December 25 through 31.
Trinidad's largest-ever Rathayatra festival wound its way through streets of Saturday-morning shoppers in the busy town of Sangre Grande. Member of Parliament Harry Partap addressed the audience at the end of the parade.
ISKCON'S original Padayatra party is still on the road, heading down the east coast. The party left Jagannatha Puri in July and entered Andhra Pradesh in November.
Padayatra North America
Last year the devotees of the North American walking festival, with their new ox, named Padayatra, walked through twelve cities: Dallas, Denver, Fresno, Houston, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Diego, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and Washington, D.C.
In response to the media reports on mad-cow disease, the British Padayatra promoted cow protection. The devotees and their oxen appeared on eight TV shows and in fifty-two newspapers.
Eighty devotees took part last summer in the Centennial Padayatra in Spain. The devotees and their oxen walked two and a half weeks from the ISKCON farm near Brihuega to the Rathayatra festival in Madrid. In some cities bull fights were taking place, so the devotees made a point of showing off their protected oxen and explaining the Vedic alternative to cow killing.
Devotees from Trinidad went on an eight-day Padayatra in July across the Caribbean. They walked, chanted, and passed out books and prasadam in Guyana, Grenada, Suriname, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia.