on Sept. 18, 2010
ISKCON Guyana last weekend celebrated the 25th Anniversary of their first installed Deities, Sri Sri Nitai Chaitanya Chandra, on September 11th and 12th at the Gaura Nitai Ashirvad Mandir, Crane Village, located two miles west of the capital city of Georgetown. The occasion was marked with a Ratha-yatra parade down the main public road, from Pouderoyen Village to the Hare Krishna Temple at Crane Old Road—through the thoroughfare that on every other day of the year is reserved for traffic and business.
The towering majestic chariot with brightly colored silk canopies fluttering was preceded by hundreds of male devotees in white and saffron robes, and women in multi-hued saris. A group of devotees of African descent hailing from the USA and Nigeria visited for the event. Calling themselves “The Spiritual Warriors” they lead the uproarious chant of the Maha mantra accompanied by expert playing of the mridanga (double-headed drums) and kartalas (brass hand-cymbals), and all the way urging the procession in ecstatic dancing. The theme of this year's Ratha-yatra festival was “invoking auspiciousness for universal peace, harmony, and good will for humanity and all of God’s creatures.”
The arrival of the Ratha-yatra cart at the lawns of the temple was followed by a grand religious and cultural program featuring traditional Indian dance, music, drama, exhibitions and discussions on Vedic spirituality—and a free vegetarian feast. Anuttama das, GBC member and ISKCON Minister of Communications, attended and gave the feature address on behalf of the GBC.
The festivity continued on the evening of Sunday, September 12, with the grand event of the 25th Anniversary of the installation of the most beautiful and merciful Gaura Nitai Deities. Over 1,000 members and guests attended. One highlight of the program was the spontaneous inspirational memoirs given by devotees who served the Deities over the years.
In preparation for this anniversary commemoration, the temple underwent extensive renovations. A new kiln-dried hardwood Vyasasana seat, of immaculate design and finish, was presented to Srila Prabhupada just the week before. The temple room ceiling was redone. Unique designs superimposed on the ceiling include a lotus bas relief and other ornate embellishments, posh chandeliers and special lighting effects. The entire temple floor, areas around the temple and pathways were re-tiled. A new concrete and iron grilled fence was made at the front and side of the property and a new car park was made. The entire sprucing up of the property was completed just over two weeks preceding the festival.
The size of England, Guyana is located on the north eastern shoulder of the South American Continent just about 8 degrees north of the Equator. It is the only English-speaking country on the Continent, bounded by Suriname on the East, Venezuela on the West and Brazil on the South. Bathed by the north east traded winds from the Atlantic Ocean on the North, Guyana enjoys yearlong mild climate. Ninety percent of the country is covered by tropical rainforest which extends deep into the Amazon basin. Its small population of three-quarters of a million comprises 55% of Indian and 35% of Afro decent, the remainder being Amerindians and mixed races.
The first Hare Krishna devotees to visit Guyana were American disciples of Srila Prabhupada, who arrived there as early as 1974. In 1976 the first and probably the only initiated Guyanese disciple of Srila Prabhupada, Bhutadi das, commissioned the first temple not far from the present one. Today Guyana has three beautiful ISKCON temples, one in each of the three counties, and a preaching center near the only university.
The Gaura Nitai Ashirvad Mandir was opened in the year 2000. Mr. Bharat Jagdeo, President of The Republic of Guyana, attended and gave the feature address. In his speech he commended The International Society for Krishna Consciousness for the valuable spiritual guidance and moral standards they inculcate within society.