Towards the end of 1997, Ananta Rupa Dasa, president of the ISKCON Boise, Idaho, USA center, came up with an idea to inspire members of his community to chant Krishna's names. Instead of staying up until midnight ushering in the New Year, he held the first Japathon on January 1st, 1998.
Since Japathon commenced, Boise has witnessed some devotees honor the event by chanting more than 70 rounds. Many chant 25 and, on several occasions, visitors, including children, chant their very first round. Afterwards, everyone's "score", total number of rounds, is read before Sri Sri Radha Banke Bihari, the presiding deities of ISKCON Boise.
Now the phenomenon has spread to other ISKCON centers. This year the Potomac temple in Maryland, USA held their first Japathon. They started event at 9:00am by putting chanting beads on the deity of Srila Prabhupada’s hands and playing his japa CD. More than 200 people participated and an estimated 108 people chanted Hare Krishna for the first time.
It was enlivening for temple regulars to demonstrate how chanting is such a joyful and easy process. After chanting a few rounds, newcomers honored prasadam (sanctified food) and inquired about ISKCON's teachings. Some visitors asked if they could keep their japa beads because they wanted to start chanting at home.
This year Japathon was also observed at the Phoenix and Salt Lake City ISKCON temples in the USA.