Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Washington to Host Two Major ISKCON 50 Events
By Anuttama Dasa   |  Sep 08, 2016

Washington, DC—The capital city of the United States will host two major events over the next month celebrating in style and en masse the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON and the power of chanting God’s names to change the world.

On September 13, in the Presidential Ballroom of the Capital Hilton Hotel—just three blocks from the White House and in a room where every President of the United States since the 1940’s has attended events—three hundred people will gather for a formal ISKCON 50 Gala Evening. The event will honor the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and celebrate the religious, spiritual, cultural and social contributions of the society he created.

Participants will include fifty leaders of the Washington society, including religious leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Jain communities, as well as government leaders, religious liberty advocates, embassy officials, and scholars.

The evening will begin with a formal reception featuring displays of Srila Prabhupada’s writings in twenty languages and a display and demonstration of Krishna art by noted illustrator Kim Waters. Guests will then move to a formal dining room for a short video of Srila Prabhupada, remarks by distinguished guests, a multi-course prasada feast, and devotional entertainment.

Featured speakers include U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Vaishnava Philanthropist Alfred Ford, Religion Professor Graham Schweig, Islamic Scholar Sanaullah Kirmani, U.S. Commission on Religious Liberty Member Kristina Arriaga, Indian Embassy Minister NK Mishra, Maryland State Delegate Kumar Barve, Catholic scholar Father Leo Lefebure, and ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner Chairman Sesa Das.

Tulsi Gabbard

“This event marks not just ISKCON’s 50th Anniversary, but a celebration of the amazing life of Srila Prabhupada and the phenomenal contributions he made, as well as the contributions that ISKCON continues to make in America and countries around the world,” said Amrita Hari, ISKCON spokesperson.

The gala will feature a Bharatanatyam dance performance by two classically trained Vaishnava sisters, Anapayini Jakupko and Kumari Mayshark Patel. The evening will end with an inspiring kirtan by the Hanumen, a devotional troupe of musicians that tours the world to perform, teach and inspire its audiences with the joys of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. 

Chant for Change

Picking up right where the Gala ends—with kirtan—on Saturday October 8th, the celebration will move just a mile away to the foot of Washington’s famed Lincoln Memorial.

There, at the site of one of America’s most famous landmarks and the historic place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream Speech,” an event never seen before on this scale in Washington will take place.

Chant4Change will focus on the performances of dozens of musicians, from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions, who will join together for a day and evening of music calling out to the Divine in chant, prayer, and song. 

The Lincoln Memorial

The event is organized by a team of Vaishnavas (devotees of Krishna) and friends who believe that in these times of great conflict and political rancor, the best way to help the world and to change the world, is to chant together in a genuine spirit of friendship, non-sectarianism, prayer, and devotion.

“We are bringing together a truly diverse group of dedicated people who want to raise their voices in praise of God, of the Divine, or Lord Krishna, or Lord Jesus, or whoever they understand to be the Supreme, and call out with heartfelt prayers for guidance and help, and to cure the suffering of our country and the world,” said Gaura Vani, event organizer and musician. 

Artists who have committed to perform include Jai Uttal, Sweet Honey In The Rock, MC Yogi, Kirtan Rabbi, Amjad Ali Khan with Amaan and Ayan, David Newman, Tina Malia, Yona FrenchHawk, and many others.

A previous Chant4Change event was held during the 2008 elections at a large church in downtown Washington. Hundreds came to that event and it was so popular that many were turned away at the door because the building was full! To solve that problem in 2016, the event has been moved outdoors to the Lincoln Memorial venue which has unlimited capacity.

Gaura Vani the organizer of Chant4Change

There is no admission charge for Chant4Change. It’s open to young and old, families with kids, experienced chanters and novices, yogis, Vaishnavas and Christians (and Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others), and people who just love music and good vibes!

Chant4Change is co-sponsored by a variety of organizations including ISKCON. ISKCON members are encouraged to put Chant4Change on their schedules. Some communities are organizing buses for ISKCON devotees to attend the event and more are welcome.

“We hope for a turnout of many thousands,” said Gaura Vani. “If you love to chant, if you love Krishna, if you love Srila Prabhupada and his message of unity and peace, and if you are inspired by the idea of chanting God’s names together with friends of many faiths and communities—this is your event.”

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