Devotees are set to hold a prestigious conference in celebration of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON’s 50th anniversary at the Italian Parliament in Rome on October 5th.
“Last year, this was just a dream of mine, but I was confident that Krishna would help me find a way to do something relevant for this historical anniversary,” says Villa Vrindavana President Parabhakti Das. “Sure enough, my dear friend Narada Muni Prabhu, a famous musician who is well acquainted with many influential people, came along and offered his help and that opened the doors to the Parliament.”
At first, Parabhakti and Narada Muni thought that they would have to go with a more universal topic for their event to make it easily digestible for such a public institution.
But when they spoke about the idea with Ugo Papi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and friend of devotees, he encouraged them: “Why don’t you go directly to your real goal – to celebrate ISKCON’s 50th anniversary and Srila Prabhupada?”
When they ran with this idea, rather than the obstacles they thought they might have faced, they found nothing but support from various leaders.
“The lesson I’ve taken from the experience is, don’t put any limits when you plan something for Krishna,” says Parabhakti.
The resulting conference will be entitled “Fifty Years of the Krishna Consciousness Movement: Srila Prabhupada, Messenger of Peace and Spiritual Knowledge.” It will be held at the Chamber of Deputies, one of two houses in the Italian Parliament’s bicameral legislature and a spot where all major political decisions are made.
At least one hundred devotees of different ages and “ashramas” or stages of life will represent ISKCON at the conference, and the Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies will introduce it. There will be speeches by Madhusevita Das, President of the ISKCON Italian Confederation, and Parabhakti in the role of Italian Confederation Vice President and Communications Director.
Massimo Introvigne, an expert on religious movements, and Maria Immacolata Macioti, a social anthropologist specializing in India – both famous internationally – will also speak.
The Indian Ambassador to Italy and other big names are yet to be confirmed as speakers, while other major figures in the worlds of politics, academics and religion are being invited as guests of honor.
The event will also include bhajans, a prasadam buffet, and a screening of the twenty-minute documentary film Hare Krishna: 50 Years of Service and Joy, which showcases ISKCON’s many impressive contributions to the world.
All Members of Parliament will also receive Italian language editions of the ISKCON 50 magazine “The Hare Krishnas: Celebrating 50 Years” in their mailboxes. The magazine is an easily accessible introduction to ISKCON and its founder, history, beliefs and works.
Parabhakti says that he hopes for major media presence at the conference, and expects it to be a historic event for ISKCON Italy.
“The Parliament remains the most prestigious place to celebrate an event, and this is the first time we’ve done something directly related to our society there,” he says. “I believe it will give us strong credit in the political, academic and cultural spheres. And in general, it will have a positive effect on public opinion that remains long after the conference is over.”[ Rome ] [ Italy ]