for ISKCON News on Jan. 11, 2013
Children having fun at Detroit's Krishna Kidz Camp marking the 40th anniversary of the temple deities' installation
On November 10th, 2012, the devotees at the Devasadan Mandir in Detroit (Michigan, USA) began an auspicious year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the installation of the presiding deity Sri Sri Radha Kunjabihari. On the day of Goverdhan Puja in 1972, A.C. Bhaktivedant Swami Srila Prabhupada commissioned the installation of these most beautiful and merciful deities. For the last 40 years, Sri Sri Radha Kunjabihari have kindly accepted service from hundreds of devotees from all parts of the world.
In 1976 during the installation of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Srila Prabhupada prayed to all of the deities that they accept the worship of the Detroit devotees despite their lack of qualification.
Srila Prabhupada once commented that these deities are particularly merciful. How did he know and how did he prove it? He asked that everyone take note of how much Sri Kunjabihari is leaning towards Srimati Radharani. He said you will not find this pronounced of a lean anywhere else in the world and it represents His overflowing mercy towards His devotees.
In celebration of this historic milestone, under the leadership of the Temple Board and various committees, an elaborate year-long celebration has been carefully planned. During the first eight days of the celebration, devotees held numerous events including a swing festival, multiple kirtan sessions, children’s dramas, public harinams, pushpa abhishek, and palanquin procession.
On the actual anniversary day, Goverdhan Puja, the Deities were offered a new elegant outfit. The largest Govardhan Hill in the Temple’s history was created with hundreds of offerings for the pleasure of the Deities. Throughout the day, more than 108 offerings were made to the Deities. Hundreds of devotees participated in the various festivities. Now, the celebration will continue during 2013 and every major festival will be celebrated with special 40th Anniversary events.
Leadership of the Detroit Temple devotees have prayed to the deities to establish and fulfill the goals for this upcoming year for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada and the deities. These goals include doubling the number of Bhakti Vriksha (congregation) groups, distributing more than 1001 combined sets of Srimad Bhagavatam, Caintanya Caritamrta and Bhagavad Gita, doubling attendance at Ratha Yatra, offering eight new outfits to the deities and organizing several large harinam and 12 hour kirtan events.
Celebration Kicks off with Most Successful Krsna Kidz Camp
The first grand event of the 40th Anniversary celebration was the hugely successful 2012 Krsna Kidz Camp held over Thanksgiving break (the third week of November). Over 90 children participated in this four day camp that attracted many newcomers to the Temple, many for the first time. The Temple was filled with energy and enthusiasm as these wonderful children drowned in spiritual bliss of learning about Lord Krishna and the great pleasure of being "LinkedIn with Krishna" (the theme of this year’s camp). Camp organizers, numbering in the 30s, were delighted at the reaction of the children, but were amazed at the responses from their parents.
Every evening parents were calling to register after hearing about the camp from friends who had attended during the day.
The days were long for the volunteers, but short for the children (most surveys suggested that camp be extended). They were clamoring for more and more. Running from the parking lot to the Temple, they were bustling with enthusiasm and excitement.
From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., children followed a full morning program with mangala arati, Tulasi puja, japa and a short class. All aratis and kirtans were led by the children. For the next 90 minutes, children broke up into small groups sorted by age for a wide array of interesting sessions, ranging from 2-4 year olds making butter for Krishna to teenagers learning about the intricate laws of karma. From 11:30 to 2:00 p.m., children learned mrdanga, bhajans, yoga, participated in arati and took lunch prasadam.
The camp concluded with a one hour session back in their small groups where they prepared for the camp final stage performance for all of the parents and congregation on Saturday.
The children captivated the hearts of everyone with their performances demonstrating all that they learned during the week.
One team acted out a dialog between a group of regular temple goer and a group of excuse makers. The temple goers artfully destroyed the excuses of the excuse makers and you could see heads in the crowd nodding in thought: “yep, that is true. Yep, I make that excuse all the time. Yep, that excuse is nonsense...”
All in all, the 2012 Kidz Camp was a huge success in trying to plant the seed of bhakti into the hearts of these precious children.
A 50% increase in attendance this year has the planning team already making grand plans for 2013.
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