Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Dignitaries Join Metropolitan Washington DC’s New Krishna Temple Inauguration  
By ISKCON News   |  Apr 13, 2024

Temple President Ananda Vrindavan Dasi speaks to guests. 

On Saturday, April 6th, more than three hundred people –political, religious, and other community leaders, along with leading congregational members of ISKCON of DC – gathered for the Temple Grand Opening Ceremony in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. The diversity of participants reflected the decades-long bonds the Hare Krishna community has cultivated in the region. Guests expressed their congratulations on the opening of the newly constructed temple building and gratitude for ISKCON’s presence in the greater Washington DC area. The gala event followed the recent multi-day Temple Opening Festival held from March 16th – 24th.

Guests at the event included leaders from the Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints communities, as well as interfaith, county, and religious freedom organizations including the Capital Area Food Bank, Interfaith Power and Light, West Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, Montgomery County Citizens Association, Association of United Hindu and Jain Temples, Becket Firm, Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan DC, Religions for Peace USA, and the Religion Communicators Council. 

Upon their arrival at the start of the four-hour program, guests were treated to a variety of hors d’oeuvres and beverages in the temple entrance hall. Then, after a ceremonial ribbon cutting, they were guided into the new temple itself, where they were able to appreciate the Deities, altar, and sacred space while local artists Gaura Vani Das and Srivani Dasi enhanced the sacred ambiance with melodious soft bhajans. 

Anuttama Dasa, ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner and Minister of Communications, hosted the program and, after welcoming devotees and guests, told the story of Srila Prabhupada “coming alone and penniless to America on the order of his spiritual master” and, after years of struggle and despite all odds, successfully spreading the tradition of Krishna bhakti all over the world. 

Anuttama was followed by Temple President Ananda Vrindavan Dasi, who shared the story of the main Temple Deities, Radha Madan Mohan, and how They came to Washington. She also explained the significance of the carved bell motif around the perimeter of the temple ceiling. “In many of the world’s traditions,” she said, “bells herald communities to come together to worship the Lord.”

Next, eminent scholar and longtime friend of ISKCON, Francis X. Clooney, SJ, the Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, and a scholar of Hinduism and Hindu-Christian Studies, quoted from both Christian and Vedic sources. He shared a beautiful quote from Pillai Lokacarya, a Sri Vaishnava saint, who told how deities and temples are like lakes of water that are always available to us to find strength, rejuvenation, and spiritual nourishment.

This was followed by acknowledgments, citations, and messages from local, state, and federal officials: Maryland Comptroller Brooke E. Lierman remarked how pleased she was to join “this incredibly special and memorable occasion” and offered appreciation to ISKCON for adding to the “rich tapestry of religious and ethnic communities” in Maryland. 

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich expressed his appreciation for the ISKCON temple’s food distribution service to suffering people during the COVID pandemic in partnership with the local government. He also offered his personal appreciation for the message of Eastern spiritual traditions, like ISKCON, that calls us to serve others. 

Maryland State Senator Chris Van Hollen–who had previously visited the temple for a Janmashtami celebration–and Maryland Congressman David Trone both shared video messages of congratulations with the assembly. Senator Clarence Lam, from the Maryland State Senate, also shared his congratulations via a live Zoom call.

Jigar Raval, the First Secretary at the Embassy of India (currently, no ambassador has been appointed to the United States), also offered an in-person tribute. He spoke about the importance of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna and expressed his appreciation to ISKCON for spreading Vedic culture around the world, particularly in Washington, DC. 

Mr. Raval was followed by representatives from the ISKCON congregation and several other faith leaders. Finally, an Official Certificate of Appreciation was presented to the temple on behalf of Maryland Governor Wes Moore and Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller. At the close of the program, the kirtan group performed for an additional 20 minutes, inspiring many of the guests and devotees–including local faith leaders–to rise to their feet and dance. 

After being directed to the temple’s new cultural hall, Catholic lay leader Mary Beaudoin offered grace before a delicious, sanctified 10-course vegetarian dinner, which was served on eco-friendly bamboo plates. After the feast, as the guests departed, gift bags of sweets and books were given to all. 

Visit here to listen to the full program, including recordings of the dignitaries and a photo gallery. For more information about ISKCON of DC’s ongoing services and upcoming events and initiatives, visit their website, Facebook page, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud accounts.