Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

facebook twitter instragram Threads Youtube
facebook twitter instragram Threads Youtube
Hundreds of Devotees Gathered to Celebrate 50 Years of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai in Italy
By Giridhari Dasa   |  May 20, 2024

The Italian Yatra of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) recently celebrated a significant milestone: the 50th anniversary of the installation of the deities Sri Sri Gaura Nitai in Rome, Italy. The celebrations spanned two days, May 18th and 19th, at Prabhupada Desh, a temple near Venice where Sri Sri Gaura Nitai have resided since 1992.

The gathering commemorated the momentous moment on May 25th, 1974, when Srila Prabhupada personally cooked for these revered deities, leaving an indelible mark on the history of ISKCON in Italy.

In 1974, Dhanajaya Prabhu, with few resources, blessed by the instructions of our Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada, reached Italy with the intention of planting the seed for a new community of devotees in Italy. He wanted to start it from Rome! After many adventures, which he recounted to 400 hundred devotees gathered during the festival, the first temple was established at 3 Mistretta Street in Rome. Soon after, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai were installed at the temple.

On May 25, 1974, Srila Prabhupada held a grand conference at the Hotel Parco dei Principi of Villa Borghese in Rome. This occasion was not just about the installation but also a significant public outreach, bringing the teachings of Krishna consciousness to a broader audience in Italy.

On the first day of the celebrations, a unique boat festival took place in Venice. The deities were taken on a journey through the Venetian lagoon, accompanied by 230 devotees chanting kirtan. The procession traveled through the picturesque canals, creating a vibrant and spiritual atmosphere that resonated throughout Venice.

The journey included a stop at Burano, an island known for its colorful houses, where devotees engaged in a joyful harinama, inviting locals and tourists to participate. The boat then proceeded to Piazza San Marco, one of Venice’s most iconic locations, where a grand harinama continued through the narrow, romantic streets and bridges, spreading the holy names far and wide. Devotees shared slices of pizza on the boat, experiencing a deep sense of community and divine presence. Many felt that Sri Sri Gaura Nitai were delighted by the festivities.

The second day featured esteemed speakers, including Dhananjaya Prabhu, Bala Gopal Devi, Citraruni Devi, Madhu Sevita Prabhu, Ali Krishna Devi, Bhogini Devi, and Dayanidhi Prabhu. They recounted the early days of ISKCON in Italy and the travels of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai across various temples in the country. Bhogini Devi emphasized the special role these deities play as the Istha Devata of Italy. Two key ceremonies marked this day: an abhisheka with heartfelt kirtan led by Yadubhar Prabhu, and the first Puspa Abhisheka ever made for Sri Sri Gaura Nitai at Prabhupada desh, with an energetic final kirtan by Krpamoya Prabhu, where devotees danced ecstatically for nearly two hours, showering flowers in celebration. The festival also featured sumptuous prasadam, with a stand of gelato (Italian ice cream) and patatine fritte (french fries) being particularly popular among the attendees.

The event was graced by many senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada and leaders from both the Italian and international ISKCON communities, including Yadubara Prabhu, Visakha Devi, Krpamoya Prabhu, Guru Carana Padma Devi, Manjuali Devi, Trai Prabhu, Vishvambar Prabhu, Jagannathesvari Devi, Madhusevita Prabhu, Ali Krishna Devi, Matsyavatara Prabhu, Dhananjaya Prabhu, Bala Gopala Devi, Bhogini Devi, Vaibhava Prabhu, Dayanidhi Prabhu, Mrityuhara Prabhu, Harthia Devi, and many others. Their presence and stories created an immersive atmosphere, allowing devotees to connect deeply with ISKCON’s rich heritage in Italy.

This festival was a profound reminder of the dedication and sacrifices of the pioneers who brought Krishna consciousness to Italy. Their unwavering commitment has laid the foundation for a vibrant and spiritually potent community that continues to grow and inspire. As we reflect on these historic events and their lasting impact, we express our heartfelt gratitude to all the devotees who have made this journey possible.