The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ISKCON)
The ISKCON centers in Calcutta and Sridham Mayapur, West Bengal, hosted interreligious conferences, one each, in March and April. Representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Christianity attended.
The Sheriff of Mumbai inaugurated ISKCON's annual Rathayatra last March by sweeping the road in front of the festival chariot of Lord Jagannatha (Krsna). The Rathayatra procession ended at Lokandwala Grounds, where devotees held a four-day festival. The ceremonial sweeping is the traditional way in which the chief guest for the occasion shows his subservience to the Lord.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has completed transferring all available film footage of Srila Prabhupada into a digital video format. The footage, along with other historical film from the early days of ISKCON, comes to forty-six hours. Much of the film, faded by the years, has been restored to its original color. In the digital format, the film is safe from color deterioration, and copies can be made without loss of quality.
The work was done by Srila Prabhupada's disciple, Yaduvara Dasa. Copies of the digital video footage have been stored in several places, including the vaults of National Underground Storage, relied upon by many large corporations. Coincidentally, the vaults are located near Butler, Pennsylvania, where Srila Prabhupada stayed, virtually unknown, when he first came to America.
The devotees of ISKCON Montreal recently finished paying the mortgage on their temple, a 75-year-old church purchased in 1974. They have also rebuilt the roof, restored the altar, restored the original brickwork on the temple exterior, repainted the temple's high, majestic ceiling, and renovated the heating and air conditioning system. ISKCON Montreal was the second temple started by Srila Prabhupada, in 1967.
Devotees in Miami installed a Deity of Lord Nrsimhadeva on the Lord's appearance day in May. The bronze Deity was sculptured by ISKCON artist and sculptor Bhaktisiddhanta Dasa in Vrndavana, India.
ISKCON devotees chanted Hare Krsna, distributed books, and gave out two thousand plates of prasadam last April at the twice-annual Westheimer Street Festival in Houston.
ISKCON Detroit held its annual Rathayatra on August 12.
A parijat tree is now growing in the courtyard of the ISKCON Miami temple. The tree was donated by Dr. David Lee, professor of botany at Florida International University, who got the seed from India and grew the rare tree in a greenhouse at F.I.U. The parijat tree has beautiful and highly fragrant flowers. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Krsna originally brought the parijat to earth from the heavenly planets to satisfy His wife Satyabhama.
The wife of the president of Slovenia visited the ISKCON book booth at last April's "Week of the Book" festival in Ljubljana, the capital. Devotees at the festival distributed thousands of books, magazines, and pamphlets. On the last day, hundreds of people enjoyed hearing devotional songs performed by devotees on the main stage.
Devotees recently opened a Govinda's restaurant in Dublin.
350,000 people saw ISKCON's Rathayatra in Dublin last March, as part of the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade. The Hare Krsna procession included devotees costumed as a forty-foot snake, representing the demon Aghasura from Lord Krsna's pastimes. At each stadium along the four-mile route, the snake would swallow twenty children dressed as cowherd boys. The snake's body would then break apart, and Lord Krsna would jump out, followed by His cowherd friends.
Devotees from the Christchurch temple chanted onstage before a crowd of hundreds in Christchurch's city square as part of the tenth anniversary of Plains FM Community Radio. Hanuman Dasa, ISKCON Christchurch temple president, has hosted a weekly Hare Krsna show on the station for the past seven years.
Devotees in Kampala, Uganda, are building a temple on their eight-acre farm four miles outside the city. The farm, started two years ago, recently opened a school for orphans. The Sunday feast program attracts about four hundred people, and eight of the local people have fully taken up the practices of Krsna consciousness.
Devotees in Mauritius held a ten-day Padayatra in the south of the island last April. Their venerable bull Sri Gopal Das pulled an oxcart carrying Deities of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda. Eighteen devotees walked every day, and two hundred more joined on the weekends. In the evenings, the devotees put on festivals in village reception centers, invariably drawing large crowds.
Kunti Devi Dasi, a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, passed away last June. Kunti Dasi had joined ISKCON in 1971 and had spent most of her life since then at the Hare Krsna community in New Vrindavan, West Virginia. She was loved and respected by devotees there and at other temples in the U.S. where she had lived. She had great attachment to serving the Deities and reading and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books. She passed away in New Vrindavan in the presence of devotees chanting Hare Krsna.
Prabhavati Devi Dasi, a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, passed away last April in Mumbai. She had constantly chanted Hare Krsna and had influenced her family toward Krsna consciousness. She is survived by her husband, Pandit Pratap Narayan (elder brother of the musician Pandit Jasraj), and seven children.
Guru Gauranga Dasa, a disciple of His Holiness Giriraja Swami, passed away last February in Mauritius, at the age of ninety. Guru Gauranga Dasa was loved by all the devotees in Mauritius, and he always respected and appreciated them. Though elderly, Guru Gauranga Dasa had daily followed a strict schedule, beginning at 2:30 A.M., of chanting, worship, and reading Srila Prabhupada's books. Up to the last moment, he had been chanting the Lord's names in the association of devotees.
Nitai Karuna Dasa, a disciple of His Holiness Atadhvaja Swami, passed away last May at ISKCON's New Raman Reti Farm in Alachua, Florida. Nitai Karuna had been associated with ISKCON since the 1970s. Suffering from brain cancer, he had moved onto the ISKCON farm to leave this world in the presence of devotees. Lord Krsna fulfilled his desire.