Guest Star Hema Malini Leads ISKCON Naperville Event, photos by
May 15th, 2022 marked an important time in history for ISKCON Naperville (Illinois, USA); a special fundraising dinner for the construction of the new Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundar Temple, with Member of Parliament and Bollywood star Hema Malini headlining the program.
The fundraising event was held at Ashyana Banquet Hall. The large banquet room was filled with promise and excitement, as all who attended were eager for the completion of this important project. Temple President Premananda Devi Dasi addressed the crowd of over 500 by reminding them what brought them all together: “Why build this temple? When Srila Prabhupada founded this institution, he listed seven purposes of ISKCON”. She then reiterated Srila Prabhupada’s fifth stated purpose: “To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna. ISKCON Naperville represents precisely this.” She concluded “We are here to serve people of all backgrounds. We are here to serve all of you, the community, present, and future generations. We stay committed to serving you as His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada taught us.”
What made this year’s fundraising event exceedingly more memorable, was the attendance of famed Member of Indian Parliament and esteemed Bollywood actress, Hema Malini. She began her career as a Bharatanatyam dancer. She was able to land her first film role as a dancer in 1963 and has appeared in almost 200 movies throughout her career.
Hema Malini is from a family of South Indian Vaishnavas. She became a friend of ISKCON during her visits to the ISKCON Juhu Beach Temple in Mumbai. Her father, she noted, had met Srila Prabhupada.
In recent years, Malini became the Member of Parliament of the Mathura-Vrindavan district. (She also owns a home in Vrindavana, near the ISKCON Krishna Balaram Temple). She explained, “I was offered some other places, but I refused. I said I am not interested in being a politician or Member of Parliament from anywhere. If it is given to me, Matura, then I am interested because it is Krishna’s place and I am connected to Krishna. I want to serve there, not as a politician, but you have to be politically connected so you are able to do a lot of work with the help of our government.” In addition, she has also been helping clean up the Ganga and Yamuna rivers apart from supporting many more important projects in Vraja and her constituency.
Also in attendance were our Governing Body Commissioner and ISKCON Communications Director Anuttama Dasa and his wife, Rukmini Devi Dasi. Anuttama Dasa stated to the audience: “The ISKCON society addresses these fundamental issues – How do I get the envy out of my heart? How do I get the anger out of my heart? How do I get the greed out of my heart? So that I can become a force for change, for the better – and how can we do that as a community?”
ISKCON Naperville devotees have been working tirelessly to support Prabhupada’s mission. “The world is looking for that type of leadership. By building the temple that you’re all contributing to, it becomes a place where we can come together and show our appreciation to Krishna for all of His many gifts. We also can come together and say, ‘Lord, I want to be a force for good in the world,’” said Anuttama Dasa.
The three-story temple will include a commercial kitchen, snack bar, classrooms, yoga studio, multipurpose hall, gift shop, a children’s playground – and most importantly, the large marble Deities of Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundara. The temple will not only be a place of worship, but a pillar of the community promoting goodwill among people of all faiths. With the help of generous donors and hardworking devotees, the temple construction is scheduled to conclude this upcoming winter. Hema Malini expressed her great fortune to have been present at the unveiling of the temple signage by stating, “It was so wonderful to be there, it just felt like I’m still in Vrindavan because of the same atmosphere.”
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