The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly know as the Hare Krishna Movement joined South Africa in honoring the official day of prayer and reflection for former President Nelson Mandela. The Hare Krishna’s gathered outside Nelson Mandela’s home in Houghton, Johannesburg and in true South African style, indeed Madiba style chanted, danced and distributed free vegetarian food to the throngs who had come to celebrate Mr. Mandela.
The initial devastation and shock had now led to reflection as to what Mr. Mandela genuinely meant to us; as individuals, a community, nation and the world. The gratitude was palpable amongst all who had come to honor the legacy and memory of Mr. Mandela and admiration for the manner in which he embraced compassion, kindness, generosity and equality to all. “These are values and ideals members of ISKCON hold dear and it was natural to dedicate to Madiba the essence of who we are, the same way he gave the essence of his being to our Nation, ” said group member Kishori Radhe.
The beating of drums, clashing of cymbals and loud chanting of Hare Krishna (God’s Names) created a surreal atmosphere. The rhythm of South Africa stirred and in a few minutes engulfed the entire street. South African’s who had come to offer prayers, African National Congress comrades, marching bands, media, hawkers punting Madiba memorabilia were all swept up in this joyous celebration. It was as if the vision Nelson Mandela had for his beloved South Africa had suddenly emerged.
South Africa's Smiles made even more radiant by chanting and dancing for Krishna (God) in rememberance of Mr. Mandela
Earlier in the day President Zuma had set the tone for the nation. “We should, while mourning, also sing at the top of our voices, dance and do whatever we want to do, to celebrate the life of this outstanding revolutionary who kept the spirit of freedom alive and led us to a new society. As South Africans we sing when we are happy and we also sing when we are sad to make ourselves feel better. Let us celebrate Madiba in this way, which we know best. Let us sing for Madiba," said President Zuma.
Excited children, reflective elders and appreciative youth, from all walks of life loudly chanted and danced together. The initial call-and-respond chanting broke out into hysterically exhilarating chants. The happiness and addiction to the chant warranted many participants to inquire about the significance of the chanting of God’s Divine Names. Reflecting on the chanting Atlalerang Moletsane commented, “Sound is invested with great potency to influence human emotion. As you turn the dial of a radio some sounds like the blues might make you sad, some sounds will make you feel upbeat and jolly, others will make you feel romantic. Spiritual sound or mantra is invested with the potency to awaken your spiritual nature and nurture spiritual emotion.”
Enjoying the Free Vegetarian Meal Distributed by the Hare Krishna's in celebration of Mr. Mandela
As a gesture of South African hospitality and recalling Mr. Mandela’s and ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada fondness for free food distribution, the Hare Krishna’s, renowned for their vegetarian cuisine and worldwide vegetarian feeding program Food for Life did not disappoint. The expectant crowd feasted to their hearts content.
Group spokesperson Nanda Kumar Das concluded, “We cannot imitate great men like Srila Prabhupada and Mr. Mandela but if we follow in their footsteps and practice the ideals they so greatly treasure we and our world will be richer for it.”[ africa ] [ johannesburg ] [ nelson-mandela ]