for ISKCON News on Aug. 24, 2012
The Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha Temple in Durban, South Africa celebrated and honoured women by hosting a ‘Womens Day Tea Party with Krishna’.
With the ushering of the new political dispensation in 1994 came the revision of public holidays in South Africa. Recognising the pivotal role that women played in the political struggle and continue to play in society on a daily basis, legislature earmarked the 9th August, the day in 1956 when 20 000 women marched in unification to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, protesting against the pass laws, as Women’s day - a day to honour women of all times.
The protest song that was sung: Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.). Indeed, profound words!
Likewise, in 1865 when William Ross Wallace wrote the poem "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World," he aptly captured the significant role of women as the pre-eminent force for change in the world.
As women influence all whom they come in contact with, namely spouses, children and ultimately their interaction with the world, in accordance providing global change. Hence, a woman who has God in the centre of her life has the power to change the face of the world for the better.
In a purport in Bhagavad-gita Srila Prabhupada points out that when the religious tradition in the family breaks down, the chastity and faithfulness of women are shaken. As men and women mix freely, the result is abortion and unwanted progeny. From such immorality and licentiousness come broken homes and the degradation of the whole society. Conversely, when the husband is a dedicated devotee of God and the wife is loyal, good progeny and a harmonious society result.
Women play a special role in upholding virtues in society. It is the duty of every woman and mother to lead by example and inculcate spiritual and moral values in the future generations of this world. In essence, each and every one woman is a leader and role model.
With this in mind, the Sri Sri Radha Radhanatha Temple hosted the Womens Day tea party with Krishna – a celebration of womanhood in a significantly different manner! Ladies were invited to a relaxing morning of conversation, entertainment, enlightenment and refreshments. The idea behind the event was to engage women in topical discussion that centres around God consciousness, not merely a celebration of feminism. Women in modern society are faced with many challenges. Their duties within the home and in the work-place leave women with very little time for themselves or perhaps time for devotional practice. The Women's Day initiative hoped to address these challenges by providing a spiritual outlook on daily activities.
Guests were welcomed with a special hand massage treatment; they were then ushered to the buffet area where a variety of decadent treats were available.
A panel of spiritually and academically learned ladies were invited to lead discussions on contemporary challenges. The topics fulfilled a deeper need within social circles by delving into matters close to the heart.
The key-note address was presented by Mother Parsuti, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. She traced her journey in Krishna Consciousness and how her life has become fulfilled by serving Srila Prabhupada’s mission.
Amongst the panellists was Haripriya dasi, possesses a MBA qualification and is also a mother of two teenage girls. She discussed ‘Raising God conscious children’ and the samskara’s necessary from conception to adolescence as well as managing the challenges of raising a teenager within the spiritual realm. This topic by far generated most interest and discussion.
Mallika dasi having resided at the Durban temple and has served as a pujari and preacher for several years discussed ‘building and strengthening relationships’. Being a mother herself, Mallika dasi was able to speak on the many relationships and level of which a woman encounters relations.
Radha Prema dasi holds a professorship and is the former dean of the Department of Education of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. On a personal level Radha Prema dasi is a mother and grand-mother. She provided practical guidelines in ‘balancing daily duties and daily devotion’ by using her personal experiences in balancing life. She also offered insight on how to engage children in daily devotional duties thereby engaging and encouraging them as a part of the devotional process.
Madri dasi from Johannesburg resides at the Johannesburg Temple and spends most of her time studying and preaching philosophy from Srila Prabhupada’s books. She is engaged in a variety of service areas from deity worship to organising preaching festival. She honoured ‘women of Vedic scripture’ and pointed out the need for modern women to aspire to imbibe the qualities for the female Vedic heroines.
Rasamrta dasi a high-school teacher and lecturer inspired women to look at a way of dealing with daily stress by having a ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. Coupled with this, a qualified yoga instructor demonstrated a few techniques to enhance a healthy body and mind.
Champakalata dasi, an attorney, lecturer and the international director for Child Protection in Iskcon facilitated the discussion. Having travelled across the world presenting Child Protection seminars at Iskcon centres, Champakalata used her expertise by actively involving the guests in discussions.
Young ladies were also a part of the morning tea as they participated in the show-stopping Vedic fashion show! The models were beautifully decorated with tilak, gopi-dots and traditional ornaments. A narration on the history of the sari and traditional attire educated guests on the significance and meaning of adorning oneself with a sindoor, ankle bells, tilak and Tulsi neck beads.
Many Krishna Conscious games and competitions created much excitement. At the conclusion of the event, each guest left a winner as they were present with a rose offered to Krishna and a special Dvd of the holy land of India.
The event attracted wide-spread attention attracting women from all walks of life and can be billed as being the most successful free Womens Day event in Durban!