Food for Life-East London Team – Right to Left, Acyuta Keshava, Vrajabasi, Bimal Ramnunan, Anakulya, and children of Acyuta and Anakulya.
The ISKCON East London community has been actively spreading the teachings of Lord Krishna in South Africa’s Eastern Cape region since 2013. The project began when devotees traveling to Grahamstown for the annual National Arts Festival stopped in East London and arranged for a small, spontaneous Ratha Yatra procession in Braelyn. After the event, Nimai Das, Acyuta Keshava Das, and Vrajabasi Das mutually agreed to initiate programs in East London.
Vrajabasi Das established the preaching program in East London and set up a prasadam stall at one of the malls that September. The project continued with weekly nama-hatta programs hosted at different devotee homes every Tuesday night. They read Bhagavad Gita As It Is, the Ramayana, and sang bhajans.
After some time, the devotees decided to rent a facility to establish a more permanent centre in Amalinda. This small centre hosted its first Ram Navmi festival, and many Food for Life programs were coordinated from that new location. The devotees moved to their second centre in the affluent suburb of Selborne in 2016, where they introduced the Sunday Love Feast, Hatha Yoga programs, and various fundraising initiatives such as prasada stalls and book distribution. They also had a booth at the local Diwali Fair hosted by the East London Hindu Society.
In 2017, for unavoidable reasons, ISKCON East London moved into a smaller property back in Braelyn, where they have been conducting their programs ever since. They have established a regular book distribution program and have placed Srila Prabhupada’s books in various municipal libraries for the pleasure of the locals through a successful Shastra-Daan campaign. They have also hosted multiple initiatives, such as a “Mantra Meditation” program and the screening of “Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It,” which saw a substantial turnout of appreciative members of the East London community. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic affected their activities greatly, and they had to adapt to the situation by conducting online programs.
Acyuta Keshava Das said, “The local community has responded positively to our preaching initiatives. We have received invitations from schools and universities to give talks and hold workshops on spirituality.” He explained that their 2022 Festival of Chariots was a significant milestone for the local community in East London, and they are keen to host the event annually.
ISKCON East London has faced challenges, like finding a sustainable rental property. Still, they have overcome them through joint programs with King Williams Town devotees and various fundraising initiatives. In addition, they have plans to expand further and engage with the community by establishing a permanent temple and conducting more outreach programs.
The ISKCON worldwide community is encouraged to support their future plans for a temple and expanded outreach. As Acyuta Keshava Das says, “Our mission is to help everyone find lasting peace and happiness, and we hope to continue to serve the people of East London and beyond.”
Acyuta Keshava Das can be contacted via Whatsapp at +27834611702 for more information about the East London efforts.
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