ISKCON devotees in the UK opened a long-awaited new outreach center in Redbridge, East London this August 15th.
The center will host weekly Sunday programs with talks on the Bhagavad-gita, arati and prasadam food, as well as regular kirtan evenings and sangas—small groups facilitating structured study of Vedic philosophy. The charity organization Food For All will also arrange distribution of food to the homeless from the center.
ISKCON Redbridge is making a special effort to reach young people, and will host regular activities for the local Pandava Sena youth group. The weekly Sunday School “Krishna Club,” for instance, is geared towards children under thirteen, while fortnightly “Jammin” Youth Sessions are for youth aged thirteen and over.
Regular courses on various subjects will also be offered, including Sanskrit and Hindi classes, yoga, and music lessons on traditional instruments such as harmonium, mridanga, kartalas, and sitar.
The center was initially spearheaded by a group of four dedicated devotees, who now form an operational committee to run different areas of management: Bhaktavatsala Dasa heads up maintenance and facilities, Radha Dasi outreach, Dulal Krishna Dasa community building, and Jai Radhika Dasi finances.
“The vision behind it is to provide a facility for local practitioners of Krishna consciousness to come together as well as to attract others to Srila Prabhupada’s movement,” Bhaktavatsala says. “It’s already proving to be successful in empowering those involved.”
During the center’s inauguration event on August 15th, ISKCON guru Chandramauli Swami spoke highly of its prime location, telling the 120 guests present, “People will just walk in off the streets.”
“At that very moment, a couple who were walking by saw the new facility, came in, and just sat down and joined in!” says Bhaktavatsala. “We were all amazed at the miracle that had just happened—and it happened again a number of times that day. Living in London, we’ve grown to accept the sun’s absence. But now, the sun of Lord Chaitanya’s mercy has risen for us. And we’re excited about carrying out his mission.”
East London youth and young professionals as well as the community at large are already playing a major role in managing the project, as well as gathering support and fundraising for it.
The center will serve community members of all ages and support already established local activities, as well as encouraging new initiatives that have not taken place until now due to a a lack of facilities and resources.
For more information, please visit www.iskconredbridge.org.