By Atul Krishna
“I feel so much closer to Krsna as a result of this festival” said Sarmistha Chanda of Habigong. “I have become so inspired seeing so many other students from all over Bangladesh who are devotees of Krsna like me” said Sri Ram Gosh from Chadpur. These were some of the comments we heard from enlivened students participating in the first National Spiritual Culture Student Competition of Bangladesh. The competition was organized by Jagrato Chatro Samaj (Awakened Student Society) based in Sridham Mayapur. Under the guidance of His Holiness Bhakti Purusottom Swami, Jagrato Chatro Samaj organizes spiritual education programs for school students in Kolkata, West Bengal regional districts, and Bangladesh.
More than 6 thousand students participated in the first round of the competition which was conducted in schools in 28 regional areas of Bangladesh. The students were divided into junior, intermediate and senior levels, with separate categories for both girls and boys. The areas of the competition included devotional drawing and painting, bhajana singing, memorization & recitation of selected Gita slokas, drama, philosophical lecturing, poetry and even fancy devotional dress. The program utilized the natural competitive spirit of the students to enliven their interest in the traditional culture of Gaudia Vaisnavism in Bengal.
Local finals were held in the regional areas and those students who were leaders in their sections were invited to the National Finals in ISKCON Bangladesh headquarters,Swamibhag Asram, Dhaka. More than 1200 students made it to the finals which were held on May 18th and 19th, 2007. The inspired children insisted on their parent’s participation in the program and through the powerful ties of family affection, many adults were also introduced to Krsna consciousness. Accommodation for the finalist and their families was arranged in ISKCON Swamibhag Asram and surrounding facilities such as the nearby Gaudia Matha and Ramkrsna Mission.
H.H. Purusottoma Maharaja was present in Dhaka for the finals and 1st 2nd, and 3rd place winners in the various sections were invited to participate, along with Maharaja, in a two day tour of holy places in Bangladesh.
The atmosphere was intense during the two days of the finals as the students were all eager to win awards in their various fields. During the two days of the finals program students and their families were enlivened with dramas, artistic exhibitions, sloka recitation. bhajan singing and short lectures and poetry given by the most talented students from all over the country.
Awards and certificates were given to the national winners of 1st 2nd, and
3rd place in each section and about 30 of the winning students were able to participate in a wonderful parikrama of Vaisnava thirtas in Bangladesh.
His Holiness Bhakti Purusottom Swami & ISKCON Bangladesh are showing an excellent example of how Krsna consciousness can be effectively spread throughout our communities in a very attractive and culturally enriched way.