After months under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some ISKCON temples around the world are gradually starting to reopen in phases, with safety restrictions in place according to their local government recommendations.
“We see that because of the Coronavirus, more and more people are losing their jobs, and running out of money,” says ISKCON Hungary spokesperson Gandharvika Prema Dasi. “And they have no support. So the number of people in need has been growing.”
One of the shared passion of the members of the band 'King of Braj' is volunteering for ISKCON Hungary’s Food for Life program, and besides helping hands-on on the field, contributin to the cause through the power of art.
“Krishna Valley is not just for us to realize Srila Prabhupada’s vision of simple living, high thinking, but to show others that it’s accessible, and teach them how they can also live naturally while keeping God in the center, ” says Communications director Gandharvika Prema Dasi.
The book has been available in translation for many years in Hungary, but could only be obtained through book distributing devotees. However, 2019 has been announced to be the year of Bhagavad Gita in Hungary, therefore the organizers thought it was timely to make the Gita available through bookshops.
While recognizing cow protection as an important branch of our Krishna Conscious society, training and working with the oxen remains to many an ideal yet to be achieved. The upcoming Ox Training Seminar to be held in New Vraja Dhama, Hungary between April 17thand 24th, will shed more light on this important, yet less practiced side of cow protection.
“There are so many families in Hungary who are on the edge of homelessness,” says ISKCON Hungary spokesperson Gandharvika Prema Dasi. “They are in debt, have no jobs, and without external help they struggle to maintain their lives and may lose their homes.”
The main topic and the title of the conference was “The Role of Multi-religious Cooperation in Social Cohesion and Human Security.” As part of the program, on May 7th the European religous leaders visited the Hare Krishna Temple in Budapest.
New Vraja Dhama, ISKCON’s 300 acre farm in Hungary, is the largest eco village in Europe. It is situated in a small village in the southernmost part of the country, 2 hours drive from Budapest. It was established in 1993 with the purpose of educating people about the values of self sufficiency, cow protection and a natural, God centered lifestyle.
Dovetailing the fall pumpkin obsession in a Krishna conscious way, devotees drew 300 tourists to New Vrajadhama for their autumn Pumpkin Festival on October 14th. On this day the temple and altar were decorated with beautifully painted pumpkins inscribed with lotus designs and the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
The event showed how far ISKCON farms have come in networking and working together particularly over the last decade, with conferences now regularly organized in four continents by the GBC Ministry of Agriculture and Cow Protection. Because the ISKCON Farm Conference began in Europe in 2008, however, the 10th anniversary event focused on European farms.
New Vraja Dhama is perfect for the main event – devotees on the 660-acre farm have had decades of experience and grow their own vegetables, fruits, and grains. They also care for cows and have their own waste water treatment system and solar panels that cover a large portion of their electricity needs.
A video by Kunjabihari Dasi.
A 2-minute short film entitled “Transit Point” featuring Hungarian ISKCON devotees taking care of refugees arriving from war-torn Syria is among the best ten in the video contest run by Faith Counts, an American multi-faith organization with mission is to promote the value of faith.
Krishna-valley, Hungary, is one of the main cow-protection centers in Europe. This video by Kunjabihari Dasi captures the happy moments when the cows are let out to graze on the fields for the first time, after a long cold winter.
Although the program runs all year long, due to the cold weather and the holidays, the month of December means increased service and dedication for the volunteers of Food for Life Hungary. During the December holiday season, they distributed 10,000 plates of hot meal and 6,000 packages of dry food all across the country.
Every year, prominent people take part in ISKCON Hungary’s annual Divali dinner. This year, as usual, government officials, public personalities, sponsors, decision-makers, artists, representatives of other religions, university professors, scientists and others from the fields of politics and media all enjoyed the Hungarian devotees’ hospitality. The main theme of the event was the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of ISKCON.
New Vraja Dhama is a self-sustainable Krishna-community in the heart of Hungary. Its beauty is marveled by the tens of tousands of guests who visit there yearly to relax and to learn about "simple living - high thinking." A video by Kunjabihari Dasi.
Music by Shaun Taylor McManus - Last Memory
Govardhana Puja – the sweetest day of the year – celebrates the day when Lord Krishna as a young boy lifted Govardhana Hill with just His little finger, to protect the residents of Vrindavana village from Lord Indra’s furious thunderstorm. Devotees around the world pour their hearts into their own offerings for the late October festival, engaging their creativity in Krishna’s service to often astonishing effect.
On October 16th the United Nations and the world celebrates World Food Day. ISKCON Hungary organized a major free food distribution event to the needy in Budapest. Volunteers of different faith groups worked together and distributed 1,600 plates of hot lunch, and gave out tons of dry food, including pasta, flour, vegetable oil, rice and other items from which families can cook from for weeks.
As part of the ISKCON50 program series, Vaishnavas in Hungary organized a two-day national book distribution event, taking place at different locations of the country. Devotees who had never distributed books before, or had not taken part in sankirtana for a long time were also involved. During the two days, 36 participants from the farm sold 619 books, while the 195 devotees on the streets of Budapest distributed 2,650 books.
A video by Ananta Vrindavan.
Krishna-valley in Somogyvamos, Hungary is one of the fastest growing villages in the area. In the past two decades, due to the hard work of the devotees, the 275 hectars of land has become Europe’s largest eco-village. There are 50 children living in Krishna-valley, who, by know, outgrew the original school building. Therefore it was time to build a new building, which, with its 200 square meters, 3 classrooms, big communal space could accommodate an additional 48 students.
To spread awareness of the importance of cows for a peaceful society, the devotees at New Vraja Dham organise a special festival every spring to celebrate the first grazing of the cows after a cold winter.
It is an age-old custom in Europe that people say goodbye to the cold and dark winter and welcome spring in a celebratory way, singing, dancing, and dressed up in colorful costumes. The students of Krishna-valley and the Budapest Gurukula’s nursery schools did not want to miss out on the fun, so they also put up their own show, -- while at the same time kicking off ISKCON's 50th Anniversary year.
A video by Blaiseus. Music by Gunagrahi Das and the Kirtan for the Soul group (Hungary).
When I lay down in my comfortable apartment in Budapest, all I could see are images of little children lying on the dirty floor of Budapest’s railway stations waiting for their transfer to a new, safer and better life.
The World Peace Forum is a worldwide platform that brings together a large number of professionals of all backgrounds and from all corners of the Earth. Their recent meeting was held on October 2-3, 2015 in the European Parliament in Luxembourg and Germany, where ISKCON devotees were also invited.
Sivarama Swami talks about his personal experience as a refugee fleeing Hungary in 1956, about his recent encounters with Syrian refugees in Budapest, and about the ancient Indian scriptures' teachings of how to treat people who are "different" from us. A video created by Janos Kapcsos, Laszlo Tas Balogh, Gandharvika Prema and Krisztina Danka, Ph.D.
With the European public completely divided over how to treat refugees poring in from war-torn countries, whether Europeans should welcome them or be afraid of them, likewise, being at the epicenter of the crisis, Hungarian devotees have also expressed their concerns about the issue. Sivarama Swami addresses some of these concerns.
UN data show that more than 300,000 refugees have tried to reach Europe so far this year. Of those, almost 200,000 landed in Greece and 110,000 in Italy. At the same time, some 2,500 migrants or refugees are estimated to have died or gone missing this year, trying to reach Europe. Civil organizations have stepped up to help refugees with medical aid, water or food.
A short video of "outsider" people trying out the Hare Krishna lifestyle for a weekend in Krishna-valley Indian Cultural Center and Ecofarm, Hungary. (Text in Hungarian.)
During the month of December, ‘Food For Life Hungary’ ISKCON Hungary’s charity program has been distributing 30 tons of dry food (rice, flour, oil, pasta, canned vegetables) as well as 30,000 plates of hot meal to the needy all across the country. The ‘Christmas packages’ that the volunteers have been giving out in 12 locations and cities represent the only source of food for many families during the cold winter and the holiday season.
Turkish devotees gathered on one of the beautiful Princes’ Islands off the coast of Istanbul for Bhakti Fest, from September 12th to 15th. 27 devotees stayed for the full duration of the event, while daily guests brought attendance to 45 by Sunday. Although that may have been a small group for many ISKCON communities, it was a crowd for Turkey, an Islamic country with very few devotees and no official ISKCON presence.
On September 18th a special art exhibition opened at the Cultural Center of the Indian Embassy in Budapest, Hungary. The “Blossoming of Vedic Life in Rural Hungary” exhibition displays over 40 original drawings from ISKCON-guru and author Sivarama Swami’s new book the Nava Vraja Mahima, a monumental work in glorification of New Vraja Dhama (or Krishna-valley), a rural Vaishnava community in Hungary.
On May 23rd, ISKCON Hungary has sent a group of volunteers to the flood affected Bosnia. Having served in several flood and other natural disaster affected areas, these volunteers are experienced humanitarian workers. Primarily, they will help in the Sarajevo area by cooking, serving, driving and taking care of the victims in many other ways.
The interior is like a combination of modern museum and Indian palace. It is spotlessly clean, airy and full of sunlight from the skylights in the ceiling. And it’s filled with chandeliers, glass, shining reflective Italian marble floors, hand-painted furniture from Gujarat, and a stunning marble altar for Sri Sri Dayal Nitai Vijay Gauranga.
6,000 plates of hot meal and 32 tons of food packages, warm cloths and toys were distributed by Hungarian Krishna devotees over the Christmas holidays. Many political leaders, well-known public figures, sportsmen and artists joined them as volunteers in helping their efforts to care for underprivileged families.
New Vraja Dhama, or Krishna Valley as it is also known, is a 250 hectare self-sufficient Hare Krishna farm community in Hungary. This 30 minute film by Barnaby Booth explores the experiences of different devotees living in and visiting the community.
The cul-de-sac village of Somogyvamos, Hungary, inhabited by a thousand people sets a very good example of cooperation: Hungarians of diverse religious and social backgrounds, Romas (commonly known as gypsies) and Hare Krishnas, putting aside all their differences and focusing on finding common grounds, have been working harmoniously together for over 20 years.
According to the opinion of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights the legal provisions regulating the recognition of churches are in contrary to the principle of separation of power, to the right to fair procedure and to the right to legal remedy.
Featuring Bramacaris from UK traveling to Hungary and visiting New Vraja Dham.
On the 30th of December, the Hungarian Parliament passed the new religious law that is in lieu of the one cancelled by the Constitutional Court earlier in December. The next two months will still remain crucial in defining ISKCON Hungary`s future for decades.
Devotees from ISKCON Hungary’s Krishna Valley presented their rural community’s activities at Budapest’s annual Tourism and Travel Expo this year, in an effort to further promote the already very popular tourist attraction.
ISKCON's Krishna Valley self-sufficient rural project in Hungary now attracts 30,000 tourists per year. Why did these young people turn to a natural and simple life? What is the mission of their community? Gaura-Sakti Dasa, the president of Krishna Valley ISKCON community, answers these questions for Krishna Valley Magazine (published by Manorama Dasa, Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness).
This photo appeared on page 24 of The Times (of London) on the 10th of February 2009. The caption reads, "Krishna worshipers are seen through a window while eating together after a temple service in the Krishna Valley of Somogyvamos, 180 miles southwest of Budapest in Hungary. They live apart from the mainstream population on a 250-hectare estate, where they produce all their own food."