As you walk towards the twin-towered Complexe Desjardins, in the heart of downtown Montreal's popular festival district, just opposite the prestigious Place-des-Arts, you are beckoned by the elegant Bharatnatyam dancer on the 15x18 ft. banner at the main entrance to come inside to explore the exotic cultural event of September 2nd and 3rd entitled as “Journey to the Heart of India.”
Upon entering the impressive central foyer with its 80 ft. ceiling adorned with skylights and saffron colored flower umbrellas, you can glimpse below at the fascinating vista: the 50,000 square-foot venue now filled with the colorful array of 20 booths surrounding the large stage, where the best of India's traditional devotional arts of dance and music captivate the hundreds of eager attendants.
During this unique showcasing of India's deep spiritual culture, the over 15,000 people who attended were treated to an in-depth presentation of Srila Prabhupada's amazing contributions, richly illustrated within 20 professional displays: Sacred Literature, Bhagavad-gita, Hommage to Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON Celebrates 50 Years, Spiritual Solutions, Eco-Village, Harmony with the Earth, Higher Taste, Ayurveda etc. Many of the thousands in attendance were thoughtful spiritual seekers already acquainted with spiritual India's ancient yoga and wisdom traditions, who also donated towards the 500 books and 1,500 meals distributed.
This unique and very successful event has created quite a buzz within Montreal's prolific cultural landscape, allowing so many to become more deeply aware of Srila Prabhupada's immense spiritual legacy.
The second part of ISKCON Montreal’s 50th Anniversary festival, under the theme “Joy of Devotion - Srila Prabhupada in Montreal”, took place at the ISKCON temple on September 4-5th. Over 600 devotees and guests from all over Canada celebrated with grateful hearts Srila Prabhupada's miraculous achievements. Several guests of honor, including Guru Das, Suresvara Das, Malati and Srutirupa, were able to share their very inspiring personal memories of their close association with Srila Prabhupada, to the delight and upliftment of all present. A special Maha-Abhishek was also offered to Srila Prabhupada with 125 golden kalasas.
Another popular highlight was Monday's maha-harinam of over 60 devotees who chanted throughout downtown Montreal for over two hours, as they made their way to Srila Prabhupada's residence during his historic stay here during the summer of 1968.
ISKCON Canada leader, Bhaktimarga Swami, also commented: “The organizers reached a milestone with their presentation... The stage event and displays held in this prestigious complex were attractive, smart-looking, relevant, comprehensive and spiritual.” Malati devi dasi also expressed her sincere appreciation: “…to present ISKCON 50 to the city of Montreal in such a fabulous manner...was just so classy and well done. Thank you again from my heart for another show of determined dedication to His Divine Grace.”
Thus Montreal's 50th celebration was crowned with success. And such a milestone event has so much enthused ISKCON Canada's widespread community that more plans are being discussed for a possible repeat event to mark the 50th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada's historic visit to Montreal in 1968.
* * *
Gokulananda das is ISKCON Montreal’s vice-president.[ montreal ]