Launched in 1996 by Niranjana Swami and starting with an attendance of only 400, it grew to become one of ISKCON’s biggest festivals, with an unbelievable 12,000 devotees participating at one point.
“One of the benefits of this was to show the disciples the culture of Vaishnava discussion,” says Sarvajna Das. “Another was to help them think about the topic more and how to apply it in their practical lives.”
“Around two to three hundred kilograms of flowers were used, including 10,000 roses,” says Vraja Hari. “First, the Deities were showered with flower petals on the altar. Then, the flowers were brought into the temple room, where all the devotees enjoyed lovingly throwing flower petals onto each other while a huge kirtan went on.”
An incredible eight thousand devotees flocked to a small village on the Black Sea Coast near Odessa, Ukraine for the mega Bhakti Sangam festival during the first week of September.
800 devotees from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia got to immerse themselves in Krishna consciousness in one of the most gorgeous natural settings in the world this August. They were attending the 17th annual Vaishnava Summer Festival in Lithuania, which ran from August 4th to 11th.
Over 1,000 devotees gathered for kirtan, classes and a beautiful Ratha Yatra in Depro, Ukraine.
A video by ISKCON Cinema.
Premamaya Vasudeva Das has entered The Voice of Ukraine and blew the judges and the audience away.
A brave group of devotees have mounted a Food For Life effort and are preparing enough vegetarian food to distribute to 600 to 800 people every day in the war-ravaged city of Donetsk, South-East Ukraine. When Kishora Gopala Das, Yuthesvari Dasi and others at the ISKCON temple in Donetsk saw the situation escalate last year, they wanted to help citizens in affected areas.
Devotees in the war-torn Donetsk region have mobilized themselves into a "Food for Life" team which has gained government recognition and very substantial support. They are known by the new government as the "Hare Krishna devotees". Not only have they found a means for themselves to survive, but these devotees have taken the initiative to work cooperatively with the local government, to raise funds from within Russia, and to find the means to get large supplies of produce and grain for distribution. To find out more: fund.niranjanaswami.org
In a country torn apart by war and suffering a plunging economy, Ukranian devotees are braving sub zero winter temperatures to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books this December. And they’re being rewarded by a receptive public. “People are very grateful,” says ISKCON Ukraine Regional Secretary Acyuta Priya Das.
With temperatures expected to fall below freezing in less than two weeks, getting the new shelter for Ukrainian devotee refugees up in double-quick time is more urgent than ever. The ten-room shelter, which is going up just outside of Kiev, will include a communal kitchen and a sawdust-fueled boiler for cost-effective heating and hot water. The property will also have four wells for water and septic.
With temperatures falling to freezing at night, devotees are working as quickly as possible to erect a new building to shelter Vaishnava refugees in Ukraine. According to ISKCON leader Niranjana Swami, the current crisis in Eastern Ukraine forced many Ukranian devotees, including families with small children, to flee their homes.
The shelter project for the devotees displaced in Ukraine has been going on smoothly over the past weeks. At this point, with the generous donations offered internationally, ISKCON Ukraine has raised enough to provide basic care and support for the devotees in need. Their focus right now is the development of buildings that will shelter devotees as the cold winter months quickly approach.
"We have good news and bad news from Ukraine.The good news is that practically all devotees from the Lugansk region have been safely accommodated elsewhere. Devotees are still fleeing the Donetsk region. On August 28th, eight more devotees from Donetsk, including three children, were assisted into safer accommodations."
Hundreds of ISKCON devotees, including families with small children, had been displaced and rendered homeless due to the military conflicts in Eastern Ukraine. Please help volunteers to provide them shelter.
Refugees who fled the turmoil in Eastern Ukraine made a video plea, where they hold a poster with the hashtag #DontKillUs.
Over the past few weeks the Ukrainian refugee crisis has intensified. Risking their lives, many more ISKCON devotees are trying to flee from the troubled region. One of ISKCON's refugee coordinators in the Donetsk region has been arrested by separatists.
On July 24th, Abhinanda dasa reported that Alchevsk, a city between Donetsk and Lugansk in Eastern Ukraine, which had been relatively peaceful until now, looked like it would become the next battleground. “There is a large devotee population in Alchevsk”, he says. “If the conflict moves into Alchevsk, there may be many more devotees looking for refuge.”
Recently, responding to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ukraine, the Executive Commitee of ISKCON's Governing Commission released a letter addressed to the Ukrainian devotees affected by the challenging situation.
“When the military operations intensified our home turned out to be on the front line. Until the last moment, I had hoped that the war would be over soon.” They were not so lucky. When Lugansk got attacked by mortars and the neighboring street became a battlefield, it was time for Nilacala Dasi, her husband Vrajamani Das and daughter Vrinda Gopi to leave.
The Bhagavatam class has been recorded in Kishinev, Moldova on July 15th, 2014.
As the situation in Eastern Ukraine escalates and the number of devotee refugees seeking help increases, the worldwide ISKCON community shows an outpouring of support.
Over the past weeks, the international media has been reporting about an escalating political situation in Ukraine, which is now close to a civil war. The government has launched a massive military offensive on the insurgent-controlled parts of Eastern Ukraine, using heavy weaponry, aviation, and troops to subdue their resistance. Many ISKCON centers and hundreds of devotees are also seriously affected by the conflict.
Today, Ukraine is all over the news for the civil unrest in its capital Kiev. But devotees are safe, and doing what they can to assist those affected. The crisis has, however, affected the Bhakti Sangam festival, which draws thousands of devotees and is the biggest ISKCON festival in the Ukraine and one of the biggest in the world. The festival was held every September in the Crimean Peninsula on the coast of the Black Sea, an area which became Russian territory in late February.
ISKCON devotees in Russia and Ukraine have had quite a turbulent time in the past month with the revolution in Ukraine. Due to this situation Bhakti Vijnana Goswami has recorded an appeal to the devotees of Ukraine and Russia.
Ukrainian priests are trained to comfort their flock — and these days, those worshippers are often on the barricades.
This film is dedicated to the 20th anniversary since installation of the ISKCON Temple Deities, Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. The excerpt concentrates on the close personal relationships between the Deities and devotees. A video by Nati Berriti.