ISKCON centers around the world are gearing up for this year’s World Holy Name Week, to be celebrated from September 13th – 21st.
The nine-day period begins on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Appearance Day. It concludes on the day of Srila Prabhupada's arrival in the USA to coincide with, and commemorate, his delivering the gift of the Hare Krishna mantra to the world.
The event was first celebrated as World Holy Name Day in 2007. Coordinators Lokanath Swami, Janananda Goswami, and Ekalavya Dasa steeled themselves to face the challenges introducing a brand-new festival might present. But the worldwide devotee community accepted it with high enthusiasm – some enjoyed the intensely spiritual experience so much that they celebrated the event for more than one day.
Inspired, Lokanath Swami suggested to ISKCON’s Governing Body Comission that World Holy Name Day be modified to World Holy Name Week.
The GBC accepted, and today the World Holy Name team is encouraging all temples, groups, and congregations to celebrate the joyous festival for one day within the one-week time frame. “Of course, you are welcome to celebrate for longer or shorter amounts of time depending on your facilities,” says co-organizer Parasurama Dasa. “Be it seven days, seven hours or even seven minutes, any chanting of the Holy Name is of great value.”
Different countries or continents can also modify the “World Holy Name Week” name to suit their needs.
Centers are encouraged to creatively apply themselves, but co-ordinator Ekalavya Dasa has some suggestions. “Massive street chanting parties – which can include some kind of Ratha Yatra cart; distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and prasadam; singing twenty-four-hour kirtans at your temple or home; holding special-interest kirtan programs for youth, children, devotee women and the elderly; and interfaith dialogs, dramas, seminars and classes on the topic of chanting are all a priority,” he says.
Many temples are planning big. In New Zealand, ISKCON Wellington are leading up to World Holy Name Week with a “Bhagavad-Saptah” – recitation of the holy book Srimad-Bhagavatam -- from September 7 - 14. They also began a 24-hour kirtan on Saturday September 13 and will conclude it with a grand fire sacrifice on Sunday. Many other temples have organized similar activities.
ISKCON’s vision, Ekalavya says, is to bring the holy name to every town and village – and World Holy Name week will help fulfill that vision. “Can you imagine what would happen if we successfully hold this event annually?” he says. “Every year, there would be massive chanting festivals held across the planet, generating a tremendous amount of media interest and coverage. Devotees around the world would share their ideas on spreading and glorifying the holy name. And there would be an increased focus in ISKCON on the chanting of the holy names.”
Devotees are being asked to send their reports, realizations, photos and videos from World Holy Name Week to firstname.lastname@example.org. All material will be posted to worldharinam.com, to go live in early October. A bi-annual PDF newsletter containing information, inspiration and reports will also be available.