(Photos by Nama Ruci Das.)
Every year, prominent people take part in ISKCON Hungary’s annual Divali dinner. This year, as usual, government officials, public personalities, sponsors, decision-makers, artists, representatives of other religions, university professors, scientists and others from the fields of politics and media all enjoyed the Hungarian devotees’ hospitality.
The main theme of the event was the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of ISKCON, which was showcased by an onsite exhibition and a stage program, and even the place cards had quotes from Srila Prabhupada.
The event hall was very nicely decorated.
The program was attended by Her Excellency Colleen Bell US Ambassador to Hungary, His Excellency Rahul Chhabra Indian Ambassador and his wife, as well as Dr Tibor Fedor State Department Secretary for Religious Affairs. The guests of honor expressed their appreciation for ISKCON’s worldwide activities, the sanctity of Diwali and the eternal value of knowledge leading people from darkness to light and they recognized the hundreds of millions of Vaishnavas all over the world who honor Diwali as the New Year’s most sacred day while remembering Lord Krishna as Ramachandra.
On the stage famous Hungarian actors and an opera singer brought to life parts of the epic Ramayana with the accompaniment of soft singing, a pakhwaj drum, karatalas and a violin. The audience sat enchanted by that ancient story of the wonderful victory of Ramacandra and his return to Ayodhya.
US Ambassador Colleen Bell giving a speech
One of the main aims of the organizers was to give the audience an insight about the personality and contribution of ISKCON-founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Thus the highlight of our program was a presentation by Sivarama Swami entitled as “The Emissary of Spiritual Science.” He spoke about the life of Srila Prabhupada and established a basis for recognizing the knowledge disseminated by him. Sivarama Swami pointed out the pitfalls of the evolutionary theory and established a scientific framework for the ancient spiritual wisdom still viewed as second-class knowledge by the Western world.
Indian Ambassador Rahul Chhabra on stage.
Next, the devotees publicly honored Balazs Bus the mayor of Budapest’s 3rd District, where one of ISKCON Hungary’s main centers is situated, giving home to Sri Sri Dayal Nitai Vijay Gauranga’s temple, the Bhaktivedanta College and the Food for Life kitchen, which feeds 1,800 people daily.
As the end of the stage program, Sivarama Swami and the guests of honor lit the festive lights of Diwali, while chanting of traditional mantras were heard.
Guests at the exhibition
As part of the event there was an exhibition of pictures and photographs, with a special work of art – a mosaic of 400 small photos depicting a portrait of Srila Prabhupada. On their arrival our guests were greeted with artifacts representing stages in Srila Prabhupada’s life: a typewriter, a recorder, books, a 1944 BTG magazine, handwritten letters and a packed suitcase containing the exact contents of Prabhupada’s 1965 suitcase on the Jaladhuta ship. The captions provided thematic and chronological information about Prabhupada’s life and contemporary events in world history. This parallel of worldly and spiritual history highlighted the horror of Kali-yuga contrasting it with the wonderful activities of Prabhupada and ISKCON.
Finally, the 300 guests with delicious meal, which they enjoyed while chatting about spiritual topics with devotee hosts.
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