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Thousands gather for Hare Krishna festival

Indo-Asian News Service, India
Feb. 24, 2004 • Tuesday February 24, 2004

Kolkata, Thousands of devotees of the global Hare Krishna sect have converged on the small West Bengal town of Mayapur to celebrate the inauguration of a new temple. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness’ (ISKCON’s) headquarters in Mayapur has organised a congregation of its devotees to mark the occasion.

Around 12,000 devotees, including many from the US, China, Russia, Britain, Ukraine, Pakistan and Bangladesh, are participating in celebrations revolving around the inauguration of the temple dedicated to the sect’s founder and his associates.

The idols of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu — who founded the Vaishavite sect that worships Lord Krishna — and his four associates were installed in a new ‘Pancha-Tattva’ temple Monday.

The installation rituals for the idols included bathing them in 108 pitchers of honey and milk and reciting of religious hymns.

The devotees are spending their time singing devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna, chanting ‘Hare Krishna’, and participating in spiritual discourse.

ISKCON authorities are planning to approach the Guinness Book of World Records for the uniqueness of the idols.

“The idols weigh 14,000 kg and are made from eight metals. They are unique,” said ISKCON official Ramesh Das.

Among the thousands of devotees, a great grandson of Henry Ford is a special attendee. Alfred Brush Ford is not only punctiliously participating in all the rituals but is even proposing a sprawling religious complex at Mayapur.

The Rs.6-billion project that Ford has planned will be a Spiritual Disneyland, a one-stop religious tourism centre that one can use as a retreat to rejuvenate the spirit and the body.

Ford, whose family became followers of ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada years ago, says people can pursue their religious quest, research Indian culture or simply relax in a spiritual environment at his proposed “Disneyland”.

The project, also being described as a Vedic Planetarium, is to come up on 400 acres of land. It will have hostels, hotels, cultural and religious centres and health centres.

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