Devotees at the only ISKCON center in Munich have been given six months to leave.
They have been renting the preaching center in the German city for twenty-one years since 1996, renewing their contract annually. But now the landlord plans to demolish the building and turn it into new flats, and has given them until October 30th to get out.
ISKCON was established in Munich in 1970, and has since become an intrinsic part of the vibrant city’s life. Over 200 yoga schools participate in an annual Yoga Expo devotees run in the MVG Transport Museum, where Sacinandana Swami and others also speak about Bhakti-yoga.
Interfaith events build relationships with members of different faiths. Young people take Ayurveda and vegetarian cooking classes that the devotees’ “Munich Society for Vedic Culture” offers, as well as morning and evening Bhagavad-gita classes.
Many other citizens enjoy the kirtan and prasadam distribution devotees do in the city center, and benefit from reading Prabhupada’s books. They also attend Janmastami and Munich’s Rathayatra – one of the biggest Hare Krishna festivals in Germany – in their hundreds.
The Indian community know the center as the Krishna temple in Munich, and the place to have samskaras, yajnas and weddings at a high standard following the Vedic tradition.
Dozens of members of the Indian community and local German community have found friendship and spiritual wisdom in Bhakti Vriksha programs.
The Munich center, one of the few city preaching centers in Germany, is also extremely important to the devotee community. Because so many flights pass through Munich, it’s a popular stop-over for many Swamis and traveling Sankirtan groups, with Harinamas and book distribution happening every week.
Senior devotees like temple president Danakeli Dasi live and serve full-time in the center, and would lose their home with no temple. The presiding Deities of Sri-Sri-Gaura Nitai would also lose Their residence.
Children in the community take classical Indian dance classes, participate in programs and have grown up with the center as their home away from home.
“When our kids came to know we have to move from this place, my son was really sad,” says Amritadhuni Dasi, who joined ISKCON at the Munich Center eleven years ago. “He asked me, ‘Mama, where will we go? Where will Gaura Nitai go?’”
As a non-profit center with no financial support from the government or from ISKCON’s GBC, Munich devotees are asking their worldwide Hare Krishna family for financial help.
They hope to move to a somewhat larger building, ideally still in the city center, with facilities to cook for and host Sunday Feasts and interfaith programs, accommodate ashram devotees and visitors, and worship their Deities properly.
To rent another building, they need a deposit of €10,000 to €20,000, as well as moving costs.
Ideally, however they hope to buy a building to get some security and stop living in apprehension of having their rent contract canceled at any moment– a common problem in ISKCON Europe.
In 2015, after ISKCON of Helsinki, Finland were similarly removed from their rental property, they started a crowdfunding campaign which ISKCON News and other websites spread the word on. Devotees and friends around the world rushed to their aid, and they were able to purchase a €260,000 Manor for their temple.
Devotees in Munich pray for similar support to help their dream of owning their own building, which would require a downpayment of €100,000 to €150,000.
“We would be able to continue hosting book distributors from around the world, attracting the many young people of Munich to Krishna consciousness, and doing our many outreach projects to different groups,” says president Danakeli. “We’d also aim to start a small restaurant which could use organic homegrown vegetables by ISKCON Germany’s rural communities.”
“So many people benefit from our service in so many different ways,” she concludes. “We would be very much missed.”
To help, please donate to the Munich temple's crowdfunding campaign: https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/krishna-temple
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