The celebrations that marked the 125th birth anniversary of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada were attended by many guests of honor. Srila Prabhupada, who passed away in 1977, founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also in Guyana knows as the Hare Krishna Movement. The festival spanned five days – from 27 to 31 August 2021, with the Guyanese President’s visit and reception on 29 August being the highlight of the diverse program of celebrations.
During the event, President Dr. Irfaan Ali delivered the keynote address and used this to talk about freedoms. According to the President, it is important that everyone abides by the tenets of freedom and fundamental rights.
The President added that the same efforts that Guyanese are making to preserve their spiritual beliefs should also be used to promote the unification of the country. He pointed out that Guyanese must understand that society is governed by certain principles and values, and must therefore commit to ensuring that these are never broken.
“In Guyana, we have freedom of religion, which is guaranteed as a fundamental right in our Constitution,” added Anil Nandlall, Guyana’s Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. “And we must not take that freedom for granted.” Some speakers had referred to what is happening in other parts of the world where wars are still being fought and people are dying for their right to practice their religion. Nandlall pointed out, “The right to practice one’s religious beliefs. That is what we have in Guyana and that is what we must preserve.”
The president honors Srila Prabhupada with a garland.
In addition to President Dr. Ali, active and former members of government and representatives of Guyanese society accepted ISKCON’s invitation
Donald Ramotar (former President of Guyana 2011-2015). Anil Nandlall (Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs; Hugh Todd (Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), Charles Ramson Jr. (Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Kwame McCoy (Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister; Dr. KJ Srinivasa (High Commissioner of India to Guyana); Brian Hall (Representative of the Ambassador of the United States of America); Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana); Professor Gomathiyanagam Subramanian (Director of the University of Guyana – Berbice Campus); Dr. Viola Rowe (Principal of the of the Cyril Potter College for Education). Reverend Ronald McGarrell (Chairman of the Interfaith Organisation, Pravinchandra Dave, (Chairman of the Board of Demerara Bank Ltd) other prominent members of Guyanese society.
Preparations for the multi-day festival took more than a month. In a particularly elaborate book for the Vyasa Puja for Srila Prabhupada, entitled “An Offering of Eternal Love and Gratitude”, Guyana’s devotees collected their thoughts on the 125th anniversary of ISKCON Founder-Acaryas’ appearance day. Participating in the festival’s programs were among others HH Guru Prasad Swami, HG Sesa Prabhu, HG Mahatma Prabhu, HH Bhakti Marg Swami as well as H.G. Virabahu Prabhu, the GBC of ISKCON Guyana.
“It was special for us – that despite the current pandemic season – that all these prominent members of Guyana’s society were able to gather all in one place to honor our Srila Prabhupada.”
For everyone at the Hare Krishna Study Centre of ISKCON of Guyana, it was a special pleasure to prepare for this festival. Prabhupadadeva Dasa summarises: The devotees worked tirelessly for a month in advance and during the celebrations to make it a success. The mood of the festival was to bring as many people as possible to the venue to hear Srila Prabhupada’s name and learn about his invaluable work.
Links to the media coverage:
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium