Inspiring participation for the 50th Anniversary celebrations next year
The devotees of ISKCON-London are known for their special yearly anniversary event festivities and this year was no exception with what can only be described as a spiritually uplifting theatre production that left the audience at the edge of their seats - entertained throughout.
As this year's celebration was during the most holy month of Kartik, the theme "Two Fingers Too Short?" was inspired by the Damodara pastime of Lord Krishna and Mother Yashoda, where Lord Krishna is tied by the rope of His mother's love which is "two fingers too short" – representing the need for both Lord Krishna's mercy and our own endeavour in our spiritual lives.
In this mood and spirit devotees from across London gathered at University College London’s Logan Hall in central London, on Sunday 4th November, to celebrate the 49th installation anniversary of Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara.
The event showcased an array of performances and gave insight into what continues to awaken and inspire generations of bhakti yogis. The entertaining MCs Milan Parmar and Rupa Manohar playing Professor Granthraj took the audience on an inspiring journey through an enlivening and unique spectacle of drama and film in a collaborative offering by ISKCON-London community members and Pandava Sena members. As the event’s narrative unfolded, we witnessed Professor Granthraj who arrives at the wrong venue, become friends with Milan, an urban Krishna devotee and eventually becomes inspired to join the journey of a lifetime to create a lasting legacy for Krishna consciousness in London in preparation for ISKCON-London's 50th Anniversary next year.
The scene was set with a moving presentation of how we are all searching for happiness. This was uniquely designed to be brought to stage through film and a dialogue between a spiritual seeker, Umayr Ansari, and our Founder-Acharya, Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada’s deity (from ISKCON-London) was then welcomed to preside over the celebrations with resounding kirtan, while the children of the community offered flower petals to him just as it was observed in the early days, followed by the beautiful song “Lover of the Lord” from the 70s by Manglaanand dasa aka Michael Cassidy – a moving scene. Gopibhava devi dasi then led a rendition of the Damodarastakam prayers accompanied by enactments of Lord Damodar’s pastimes by children of the community. The audience participated in the offering with their colourful tea lights creating a deeply devotional atmosphere.
In the opening drama, Professor Granthraj arrives at the wrong room to deliver a talk on atheism however he is welcomed by Milan to join him on a spiritual journey to which he obliges. This led into the main drama of the evening, Two Fingers Too Short? which was inspired by an address by Aindra dasa on sankirtan: “She collected all the ropes in her house. She had no more ropes and yet the rope was still two fingers too short. So, what did she do? She engaged her friends to bring ropes from their houses, and this engagement of others in service is sankirtan. Without her doing sankirtan, there was no question of Krishna seeing her extra endeavour. You can make all the extra endeavour in your own account but it is more important to help others by engaging them in the pursuit of binding Krishna – this is the goal. The drama featured Pandava Sena members Davina Padhiar and Shyamali Buddhdev playing Mother Yasoda and Lord Krishna joined by others playing roles of various Londoners, including Professor Granthraj chasing Lord Krishna through the streets of London. The chase concludes with them coming together on stage to bind Him through their collective endeavour.
This was followed by a captivating video of UK pioneers, Mukunda Goswami, Shyamasundar dasa, Malati devi dasi and Gurudas sharing magical moments and unveiling what inspired them decades ago and the blessings that have been passed down through the generations. The UK Hare Krishna's turn 50 in 2019! We want to share what we have to offer today and build on the achievements of the past with London. Professor Granthraj is inspired to be a part of this milestone celebration, but we need more devotees and friends to come forward to make this pioneering effort possible. We invite you to come ‘be a pioneer’. When inviting participation, he is aroused by curiosity to know how Milan came to Krishna consciousness. Milan shares the story of his friend Umayr Ansari playing Abdullah who became friends with resident monk Doyal Mora dasa who revealed to him the wisdom behind what makes the Hare Krishna’s happy, who in turn shared this profound knowledge with Milan.
Syama Kumari devi dasi led an interactive Ayurveda quiz, where the audience explored their ‘doshas’ and the different energies that make up every individual. Orissa Kelly; international foot archer and acrobat provided spectacle and bought the track Narasimha Vijaya to life with her Narasimha themed acrobatics. The event concluded with a soul stirring performance of Hari Biphale by Radha London Isvara dasa from the new Mantra Lounge Volume 3 album.
During the show children were entertained in a dedicated activity room with a magician, colouring, puzzles, play-dough, face painting and mehndi. The feast for the eyes and senses was then followed by a feast for the stomach and soul. Devotees were treated to a delicious vegetarian feast and also experienced a bazaar with stalls selling various merchandise including ISKCON-London and 50th anniversary branded items, altar items, and items made from Deity maha. The Sankirtan department encouraged devotees to sign up for the upcoming Winter Book Marathon and London College of Vedic Studies, the educational arm of ISKCON-London, was also present creating awareness of seminar and courses offered.
This event, organised by Ashika Patel and team, is an invitation to the community to join our efforts to present a live experience of bhakti yoga culture and purpose with true love and happiness through a series of events in 2019. If you feel inspired to be a part of this adventure and would like to get involved, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We warmly invite you to come and join us on this journey.
Watch the event highlight here: http://bit.ly/49th-highlights
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