Sunday, February 7, 2016

ISKCON Turns 50 (TOI article)

MUMBAI: Empowering the young with a new level of spirituality will be one of the foremost missions of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon), as it gears up to celebrate its fifty years. Iskcon, also known as the Hare Krishna movement, has expanded widely since it was founded by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in New York City in 1966.

Although Mumbai is home to three temples, Juhu, Girgaum and Mira Road and the under-construction temple at Kharghar, a mammoth rath yatra is being planned so that all devotees can culminate at one place. Also, preparations are rife as a three-day spiritual and cultural festival is scheduled to be held on February 5, 6 and 7.

"There will be a Lord Jagannath rath yatra from Lokhandwala to Juhu on February 5 which will be followed by two days of spiritual discourses, cultural and musical programs," explained Shri Sura Das, national convener of the celebration committee.

Alfred Ford, heir to the Ford empire, and his wife Sharmila will share the dais with a number of dignitaries that include CM Devendra Fadnavis, actor-MP Hema Malini, artistes Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Anup Jalota, Pandit Jasraj and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, and industrialists Ajay Piramal and Ashok Hinduja, philanthropist Rajashree Birla and cardiologist Dr B K Goyal.

Iskcon will also launch an Android phone app Krsna that will enable users to view darshans, chants, music and hear chapters from the Bhagwad Gita. "Spirituality has to be taken to another level and given what the world has come to, it is delightful to see the young interested in it and keen to understand," Das said.

The golden jubilee celebrations have been planned over the year and will end with an event at the DY Patil Sports Stadium in Nerul, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to grace.

At present, completing the Kharghar temple is foremost for Iskcon. "Almost 75% has been completed but there has been a slight dip in funding. We are hopeful of sailing through," Das said. The temple is an elaborate structure—a replica of 12 villages of Vrindavan and is spread over 9 acres.

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