Innovative Outreach Event for celebrating ISKCON 50th Anniversary

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On account of the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON, we, at ISKCON Ahmedabad, have been working together as team, for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada. Under the kind guidance of HG Jashomatinandan Prabhu (ACBSP) and by Krishna’s mercy, our core committee, while churning for the nectar, derived at an amazing and innovative idea of conducting an outreach program for the top-notch corporate tycoons, based in and around Ahmedabad. We had two prime factors to validate this event. 1. ISKCON’s 50th Anniversary and 2. A new temple project at our Gaushala. Hence, we started working on this project and could manifest it in the following manner:

This event was organized strictly for the well-known businessmen only and hence, we selected ‘Padmashri’ Dr. Karsanbhai Patel (Chairman & Managing Director of NIRMA) as our chief guest. Other business magnates who were selected as the guests of honour were Shri Bipinbhai Patel (President – GCCI – Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry), Shri Shankarbhai Patel (Chairman of the Green Society), Shri Chimanlal Agrawal (Real-estate Expert) and Dr. Shri K. U. Mistry (Ex-Chairman of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board). In all we had invited about 300 industrialists, along with their families, for this program. 11th August 2016 was selected for materializing this event, between 6.30 PM to 9.30 PM. A designated team of 50 devotees with excellent communication skills, attractive personality, humble and aristocratic behavior, distinctive courteousness and who are philosophically well-versed, were pre-trained to execute various services during this event.

As soon as the guests arrived, the volunteers of the dedicated team for the vehicle parking management, led the drivers to their appropriate places and if the guests weren’t chauffeur driven, our drivers helped them park their vehicles. Two welcome teams and escort teams were formed (for two gates each), which welcomed the arrived guests with flowers, sprinkled rosewater, applied chandan on their foreheads, applied Shri Nrsimhadeva’s scent on their hands and led them towards the shoes stand. Then they were led towards the altars in the temple, with a decorated plate of aarati, once the formality of their registration was accomplished. After the performance of aarati, they were led to the Jhulan for swinging Their Lordships and then they were led towards Srila Prabhupada’s deity, where the chief male member of the family garlanded Srila Prabhupada and in turn, the principal couple in their family was garlanded back by the volunteer devotee couple, with Srila Prabhupada’s prasadam garlands. Finally, they were led towards their seats in the main temple hall, where the program was organized. A huge dais with Srila Prabhupada’s cutout in the center, sitting arrangement for the guests of honour and a podium for the speakers were arranged on the right hand side of the deities. A wooden prototype of the temple under construction at our Gaushala was placed on the left of Srila Prabhupada’s deity, which was to be unveiled by the chief guest. A huge LED screen was installed on the left of the stage, for our presentation videos. The most remarkable of all was that the complete decoration of the event, from the beginning until the end, was done all in the combination of ‘BLUE & WHITE’ as that of ‘Krishna & Balarama’. So much so that the lamps which were lit all around the temple for decoration were floating in Blue & White colored water, most of the matajis wore Saris with bluish tone, the backdrop, the banner, deities’ attire, curtains, flower decorations, balloons, festoons, and everything else, wherever possible, were all in Blues & Whites.

Ahmedabad celebrating ISKCON 50th celebration
Ahmedabad Temple president Sriman Jashomatinandan Das with other dignitaries

The program commenced with a welcome note and an introductory speech by the anchor, specially invited for this event. The chief guest and the guests of honor were requested to come on to the stage and light the lamp, so as to inaugurate the event. After welcoming the chief guest and the guests of honor sitting on the dais, by offering a shawl and a Maha-garland, a welcome speech was given by the president of ISKCON Ahmedabad, His Grace Jashomatinandan Das. What follows is a brief summary of the speech given by his grace:

“I am glad to invite our chief guests, Karsanbhai Patel, Bipinbhai Patel and all the invited guests, without whose cooperation, this temple (ISKCON Ahmedabad) would not have come to existence. In the same way the new temple project that is coming up at Kathwada village, is also not possible without you.

This organization (ISKCON) is based on the teachings of Bhagavad Gita. Krishna said twice in the Bhagavad Gita; once in Ch. 9 and then in Ch. 18, man mana bhava mad bhakto…. Engage your mind in always thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisance to Me and worship Me. The organization that is based on this principle is THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS, ISKCON, which has completed 50 years.

When Srila Prabhupada first met his guru in 1922, his guru told him “you are very educated young man, so please preach Bhagavad Gita in English language.” In 1937 just before his guru left his body, he again instructed Srila Prabhupada to preach and to make western people devotees of Krishna. In 1965 Srila Prabhupada left in a cargo ship to America. After the struggle for one year, few Americans became devotees of Krishna and Srila Prabhupada gave lectures on Bhagavad Gita and taught Hare Krishna Mahamantra to them. In this way, by chanting this Mahamantra, the movement began through many lanes of the city and gradually he had many disciples and hence, this historic movement was formed.”

Thereafter His Grace spoke about Srila Prabhupada’s achievements and glories. Later he mentioned about the Gaushala and the ongoing temple project, so that the audience can aid in raising funds for the same. He also mentioned about the care of the cows and the organic farming, executed by us.

Our chief guest Dr. Shri Karsanbhai Patel, the next speaker after Prabhuji, astonished the audience with his marvelous explanation about the spiritual science. Here is a brief summary of his speech:

“Hare Krishna to everyone!

50 years ago Srila Prabhupada started ISKCON or Radha-Krishna worship or let’s say the preaching of Bhagavad Gita. The kind of preaching that Srila Prabhupada did, of Bhagavad Gita across the whole world, has never been done before. We should offer our obeisances to him and thank him and also thank all those who are spreading this movement across the world. We pray to him to give all success and that people continue this service of the Lord and also that he keeps enlightening us.

Actually speaking, if we desire to serve the Lord, we should not ask anything from Him. Why should we ask? In reality, living beings and the nature are dependent on the supreme soul. Supreme soul is independent. We run after the happiness, prosperity and peace. Whatever we do, we do it merely for this. We try to find them outside. We may get these things externally for a few moments, but it is not permanent in nature. Those things that give you happiness and peace can be a cause of misery tomorrow. Whenever you go to the Lord, do not ask anything for yourself. Ask for others. If you selflessly pray for others, sincerely, then surely it will be answered.

We should assist Jashomatinandan Das in building the new temple. Anyway the temple is going to come up. There is no hindrance in the service of the Lord. But we all should take the maximum benefit in this service of the Lord.

With these few words, I thank you all.”

Shri Bipinbhai Patel delivered a concise speech, mainly focusing on the aspect of contributing to the new temple project, by inviting the audience to step forward for the divine cause. After the speeches, we projected a slideshow pertaining to the new temple project, with the cows in the gaushala, the organic farming, ongoing construction, future plans and various devotional activities going on regularly at the project site. Thereafter, all the guests of honor, along with the chief guest, were requested to unveil the model of the new temple project. Subsequently, after the model was unveiled, many generous donors declared their amounts that they wished to donate to this new temple project. Consequently, some of the senior devotees of the committee offered a shawl and a garland to these generous donors. We concluded this event by projecting the ISKCON 50th Anniversary video, depicting the activities of ISKCON worldwide, downloaded from the official website of ISKCON50.

All the guests were finally requested to oblige us by honoring the Mahaprasadam love feast, organized by us aristocratically, apposite to their tastes, with various majestic cuisines. Not only that, before their departure, parting gifts containing a lot of devotional paraphernalia and Srila Prabhupada’s books, were handed over to them respectfully and were requested to visit us during this Janmashtami and all other festivals that we celebrate. Most importantly, for our follow-up team to work on, we collected their details on separate data cards, so as to accomplish the real purpose of this mission, which was to cultivate them carefully and gradually inspire them to take up Krishna Consciousness.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada and the 50th anniversary of ISKCON!

To see more photos click here.

 

This article was first published at http://www.dandavats.com/?p=30600