By Danavir Goswami
July, 2008: Over the past few months I visited several ISKCON centers in North America and experienced many, many noteworthy devotional services and people. Here are a few bright spots which especially drew my attention.
*Legal Victoryâ€”after years, which seemed like ages, the temple won a court decision freeing it from serious legal encumbrance. Congratulations to a dedicated and sincere team of devotees.
*Valliant Siddhavidyaâ€”although hit by Parkinsonâ€™s Disease, Siddhavidya dasa Adhikari continues to lead out the harinama throughout the city and he also attends the entire temple program.
NEW RAMAN RETI (ALACHUA)
*Broadcasting Srimad Bhagavatamâ€”daily the Bhagavatam class is aired and heard on internet throughout the world.
*New Propertyâ€”the temple acquired a prime seven acre parcel of land and has tastefully refurbished the house upon it. Plans for building a major temple and cultural project there have been well-received.
*Big-ISKCON Visionâ€”when approached by another devotee with interest to build a Vedic attraction in the same city, temple leaders welcomed him saying, (in essence) â€śLord Caitanyaâ€™s movement is big enough for many projects in this city.â€ť
*New Leadershipâ€”Rupanuga Vedic College welcomes a new managing director, Sriman Jivananda Prabhu (ACBSP) from Texas.
*Super Rathayatra Siteâ€”the Rathayatra festival ends at a busy square near the harbor where thousands of people flow through the festival area during its three day venue.
*Sunanda dasa Adhikari (ACBSP)â€”although he has moved from Baltimore, Sunanda Prabhu still managed to organize the wonderful Rathayatra parade and festival this year.
FESTIVAL OF INDIA
*Still Rollingâ€”this project, unique in the world, keeps its big wheels rolling from city to city, bringing happy and colorful Krishna consciousness to millions who might otherwise not experience it.
This was my first visit to ISKCON Phoenix ever. The last time I had been here was in 1976 while selling Spiritual Sky Incense products to the stores. It is pleasant to see the nice temple with an enthusiastic group of devotees here.
*New Presidentâ€”Bhava dasa Adhikari (ACBSP) along with his good wife, Lalita devi dasi, has recently taken up the presidency of the temple.
*Outshines Red Roof Innâ€”with its beautiful new restoration, the templeâ€™s outside appearance equals or surpasses that of nearby Red Roof Inn.
I visited here about 13 years ago and since that time many tasteful decoration, landscaping and promotion developments have taken place.
*Westernersâ€”the temple/cultural center attracts most of its guests from American heritage, which is very unusual these days.
*Efficiency & tidinessâ€”for years running, Govindas continues to be recognized as the top vegetarian restaurant in Tucson.
*Saturday Night Harinamaâ€”every Saturday night, the devotees chant and dance though one very alternative section of town.
*Big Ratha Cartâ€”for the first time, a big cart was engaged for Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balaramaâ€™s triumphant ride.
*Hard-working Malatiâ€”despite a list of maladies, Malati devi dasi continues to amaze with her sincere devotional service. Devotees credit the successful Rathayatra Festival in New Vrindavana largely to her efforts.
*Kale, Swiss Chard and Vegetablesâ€”healthy delicious vegetables are growing in the organic gardens and university students are coming to study the technique.
*Kirtanaâ€”the Sunday feast program was held in a exquisite rented facility where a timeless blissful kirtana took place.
*Humble Childrenâ€”several of the children from devotee families showed unprecedented enthusiasm to take the dust from the feet of Vaisnavas.
*Sadhanaâ€”it was a pleasant surprise to see twenty-five devotees attending the entire morning program each day from mangala aratrika onward. Even more astonishing was to see the same devotees eagerly present for each eveningâ€™s Bhagavad gita class and Sundara arati.
*Striking Vyasasanaâ€” perhaps the biggest and certainly one of the most striking Vyasasanas in the movement.
*Deity Garlandsâ€”the devotees here daily make big beautiful garlands for Their Lordships Sri Sri Kisora Kisori, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai and Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra and Baladeva.