Organizers of World Holy Name Week (WHNW) are requesting ISKCON Centers all over the world to gear up for the celebration by planning a host of unique events designed to create extra focus on Krishna’s and all of God’s names.
The event was first launched by ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission in 1996 as a one-day celebration to commemorate 100 years since ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada’s birth. It was lengthened to a week-long event in 2008, and has been held every year since.
Scheduled for September 5th through 15th this year, WHNW will be packed with sacred Vaishnava holidays. On Saturday the 6th there’s Vamana Dvadashi, and on the 7th the appearance day of Srila Haridas Thakur, known as the foremost devotee of the Holy Name.
On September 8th there’s Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur’s appearance day, on the 9th the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s taking sannyasa – the renounced order of life – and on the 15th the anniversary of his 1965 arrival on the shores of Boston from India.
The WHNW committee of Lokanath Swami, Janananda Swami, and Ekalavya Das say it’s the perfect time for temples all over ISKCON to hold some of the twenty different Holy Name-related activities they suggest at worldholynameweek.com.
“Some of these include 24, 12 or 6 hour nonstop kirtans, Holy Name themed Bhagavatam classes, Holy Name seminars, and major Harinamas on the streets of your city,” says WHNW secretary Divyanam Das. “You can also hold japa retreats, and “japathons” where participants increase the quality and amount of their rounds.”
According to Divyanam, the number of ISKCON centers participating in World Holy Name Week is increasing annually. Last year, at least forty-three different centers participated, in countries as diverse as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Indonesia, Ukraine, Brazil, and Singapore.
India, though, was the largest participant, with no less than 35 temples across the country celebrating. It’s expected to repeat this performance once again this year.
WHNW has certainly brought out Krishna conscious creativity in devotees. In previous years, ISKCON Toronto in Canada has held Harinamas in an open-topped double decker bus around the city. ISKCON Bali in Indonesia has held beach Harinamas and offered musical workshops on kirtan instruments. On Australia’s Gold Coast, devotees held Harinamas for six days in a row. In Ukraine, an incredible 10,000 devotees participated in a full day kirtan. And Bhaktivedanta Manor in the UK topped the usual 12 or 24 hours and held a nonstop forty-hour kirtan.
Meanwhile at ISKCON Pune in India, youth held a “biker Harinam,” traveling to different locations to perform Harinamas on motorcycles equipped with Holy Name flags and banners. At ISKCON Punjabi Bagh, devotees held Harinamas every single day of WHNW in different parts of Delhi.
And at ISKCON Chowpatty, several brahmacharis (celibate students) chanted an unbelievable 192 rounds of japa on the appearance day of Haridas Thakur, who was famous for chanting 300,000 names of God per day.
Other centers have held interfaith events, finding common ground in the fact that chanting the Holy Names of God – whatever names we use – are a central tennet of most major faiths.
Divyanam encourages ISKCON centers and individual devotees to get creative again this year, and to reap the spiritual results.
“World Holy Name Week is an opportunity for devotees to increase the quality of their chanting and their attachment to the Holy Names,” he says. “It’s also a chance to give it to others, to reach out to the masses. At ISKCON Punjabi Bagh and ISKCON Pune in India – two of the temples who have put on the most WHNW events – they have seen a lot of new people start to come to the temple as a result.”
In the future, Divyanam hopes, World Holy Name Week will become an internationally recognized event like Mother’s Day, at least in the ISKCON world.
He reminds devotees who would like to participate that there is no official registration for World Holy Name Week – all you have to do is use your creativity to glorify the Holy Name between September 5th and 15th.
When it’s over, though, he does encourage centers to send in their written, video and picture reports to firstname.lastname@example.org. These will then be compiled into one report which will be presented to the GBC and ISKCON India’s leaders and broadcast on ISKCON websites everywhere.
For more information, please visit www.worldholynameweek.com.
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