Sankirtan news from the Pacific Rim

BY JANANANDA GOSVAMI

Malaysia

December Malaysia – Rathayatra season. 3 a week. We attend 5 or 6 of them. Many of these festivals have been going on annually for 20-25 years. Penang is especially interesting as we get a lot of foreign tourists and Chinese taking part. There were several families of Iraqis pulling the cart – they were really wonderful people.

An interesting Rathayatra Hall programme in Malaysia

Rathayatra in Klang Malaysia

Another interesting feature in Malaysia is the broadening of people’s consciousness to other religions and ways. On our general harinama in Penang for instance, young Chinese who had never seen us before spontaneously took part – quite unlike the past. Some Muslims were also stopping listening and approaching us for books.

Kirtan with happy Chinese youth in Penang

Lion dance at Penang Rathayatra

In Kuala Lumpur during the month of Damodara the devotees held at least 7000 home programmes in the area, introducing the worship of Damodara and the holy names.

Seberang Jaya – Penang The final plans for the new Temple building have been approved – tenders settled and the first piling will commence on April 27th. Both the temple and a second building – the cultural hall – will be built at the same time. The contractors are to finish within about 12 months. Then the Sthapatis from India will take over and work on all the special features – this will take another 1 or so years if all goes according to plan and projections.

Philippines

In November the devotees held the first ever full Rathayatra in Manila. HH Indradyumna Maharaja, Sri Prahlada and Tirtharaja attended. They plan to hold another one soon.

After Malaysia we head off to Manila for 10 days or so. In January we had the ground breaking ceremony on ISKCON’s property in Alaminos a couple of hours out of Manila. Already stage one is almost completed which will allow the devotees to move onto the land – several simple bamboo houses, a temporary temple hall and kitchen and public conveniences will be available.

In Manila we had several great Harinamas as usual.

Radha Madhava in Manila

Simple accommodation buildings at Alaminos project

Australia

From Manila we flew straight to Australia (via KL) to attend the annual New Govardhan festival. Several sannyasis were there and this year the weather was mild and dry. The attendance was pretty good especially for the Sunday programme.

At the same time Indradyumna Maharaja was having very successful festivals all over Australia.

Prasadam distribution at New Govardhan

Food for life – ants enjoying Mahaprasadam

Newcastle beach Kirtan

Brisbane

We attended a nice kirtan retreat with the devotees from the Loft. It was held in the mountains south of Brisbane in a beautiful setting. One can really appreciate the greatness of Krishna when one gets out of the city and spends some time with nature. Give some time to associate with devotees and seriously chant together and discuss the chanting etc… The week before HH Devamrita Swami had gone on the river in Brisbane in a hired boat with 300 youths – mostly Indian. They had classes, kirtans, prasadam and a great time.

Sita Pati and devotees at the retreat

Beautiful rosellas at the retreat

Ecstatic bathing in the small falls

View of falls and hills from near the retreat site

New Zealand

The anniversary of the installation of the Deities in their new Temple. a great temple and many great devotees. A great preaching field and we have some great programmes and kirtans. How fortunate we are.