Devotees from ISKCON Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, India, held a week-long festival from 11 July to 17 July 2016 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ISKCON’s Incorporation Day, which fell on 13th July.
Each day in the morning, devotees heard readings from the Jaladuta Diary and Prabhupada Lilamrita. Discourses were held on various topics such as Srila Prabhupada’s voyage to the USA, his commitment to following the orders of his spiritual master, the incorporation of ISKCON, and start of the worldwide Jagannatha Ratha Yatra festivals. Devotees also deliberated on one of Srila Prabhupada’s main instructions: books are the basis, purity is the force, and preaching is the essence.
“The week-long festival started on the actual day that Srila Prabhupada signed the incorporation deed in New York, which was on July 11th,” explained Sura Das, President of ISKCON Kharghar. “The festival saw devotees embarking on a voyage of memories that helped us remember the 50 glorious years of ISKCON. Everyone felt real pride in sharing the joy of devotion, that was Srila Prabhupada’s special gift to all of us.”
Every evening, devotees sang bhajans and kirtans, performed dances, and enacted dramas on the life and teachings of Srila Prabhupada.
“We sang the heart-melting bhajans that Srila Prabhupada wrote while he was on-board the Jaladuta,” said Dr. Chetan Hazare from the local congregation. “Children from Nimai’s Bhakti School, our local Sunday school, staged two plays on Srila Prabhupada’s struggles to establish ISKCON. We had a classical Indian Bharat Natyam dance featuring the bhajan written by Jayapataka Swami called ‘Yadi Prabhupada na hoito‘. A dance drama on the seven purposes of ISKCON was also performed.”
Several devotees offered Vyasa-puja style gratitude offerings to Srila Prabhupada in the evenings. A sumptuous prasadam feast was distributed every evening with specially made ‘love cookies’. Devotees offered a Golden Jubilee Cake on the Incorporation Day, and two Gratitude Day Cakes with the engraving ‘To our dear Srila Prabhupada with gratitude‘. On the concluding day, they offered special ghee lamps to Srila Prabhupada.
“We are grateful to Amiya Vilasa Swami, who graced the festival, and to Vaishnvanghri Das, Director of Bhaktivedanta College of Vedic Education, who guided the devotees throughout the celebrations,” concluded Sura Das. “Members of our congregation, whose life revolve around our Deities, Sri Sri Radha Madanmohanji, felt spiritually surcharged after the seven-day festivities. As a result, they want to become more involved in the 50th anniversary celebrations of ISKCON.”