October 1, 2000 VNN6291 Comment on this story
Iskcon Singapore Continues Expansion Into Chinese Community
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CHINA, Oct 1 (VNN) We reported in newsletter No.27 ('Big Breakthrough For Krishna in Singapore') on the first ever penetration that ISKCON had made into the large and influential Chinese community in Singapore. Buoyed by this success, the ISKCON temple in Singapore has now moved its temple to larger premises, specifically in the heart of the Chinese community.
Whereas the Indian community are already our well-wishers, Srila Prabhupada was particularly keen for the movement to be spread amongst the local native population. The temple is now located at 23 Lorong 28 Geylang, a largely Chinese-populated area bustling with cultural activities, and already many Chinese have taken darshan of Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohan, bought Srila Prabhupada's books and relished Krishna prasadam. Within a mere week since the temple's shifting, 2 events of significant importance have occurred much to the pleasure of the Vaishnavas there.
Further evidence of this progress was that on the 7th of September, the devotees were invited to present the pastimes of Lord Krishna at the world famous Asian Civilisations Museum here in Singapore.
The first was Sri Radhastami. During the festival, the devotees had invited the Chang Clan committee (located just below the temple) to participate in the Jhulan (swing) festival for the pleasure of the Deities and honour Krishna prasadam. (The Chinese people in Singapore organise themselves according to their clans, with the Chang group being one such important clan). Over 50 of them attended the festival. Those who attended were very impressed with the prasadam and subsequently within a very short period of time, a good rapport was established between them and the devotees. As a sign of their appreciation, the devotees were in turn invited by the Chinese clans to participate in their annual lantern festival, which is one of their most important Chinese festivals in Singapore, attracting the whole Chinese community. Many Chinese clans conjointly held the lantern festival on the 9th of September just below the temple premises. The Guest of Honour was Mr Chan So Sen, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health. On the actual day, the ISKCON Temple had both the book and prasadam tables set up together with the other Chinese tables and stalls. Following the customary lion dance to invoke auspiciousness and welcome the chief guest, Mr Chan came to the Association Building within which our temple is housed. All the devotees shook hands with the minister. Following the greeting protocol, Chandra Devi Mataji presented the minister with some of Srila Prabhupada's books.
He was astounded by the fact that Vedic-oriented Indians were present for a Chinese festival. After having explained the existence of our new temple within the premises, the devotees accompanied Mr Chan to the various stalls. He very gladly stopped at the prasadam stall and relished Krishna prasadam to his full satisfaction. He then proceeded to the bookstall to view the various books of Srila Prabhupada. The minister was very warm and friendly. After the minister's departure, the devotees were invited to present further books to some of the leading donors of the clan societies.
The programme ended at 10 pm and to the devotees' happy surprise, all the prasadam had been distributed. Prasadam was obviously a big hit with the Chinese people! For many of the Chinese people attending, this has been the first time that a tangible and solid contact with Indian spirituality and culture has been made. Their appreciation has burgeoned and they are coming forward to help us in many ways.
Further evidence of this progress was that on the 7th of September, the devotees were invited to present the pastimes of Lord Krishna at the world famous Asian Civilisations Museum here in Singapore. Entitled "Krishna - child, lover and divinity", the talk was a systematic presentation of Lord Krishna's pastimes from the time of His appearance till the time of His disappearance. His Grace Sundar Gopal Prabhu, the President of the Singapore Temple, touched upon the significance of the Lord's pastimes and the purely spiritual and transcendental nature of His personality. Topics ranged from Vraja lila to the Bhagavad Gita and the entire presentation was based on Srila Prabhupada's Krishna Book. Srila Prabhupada was also duly given credit and his contribution rightly pointed out to the audience before and after the presentation. The audience consisted of people from various cultures and backgrounds and many pertinent questions related to Krishna Consciousness were posed.
On the 13th of September, devotees again graced the museum for a musical performance centred on Vaishnava music and Harinama sankirtana. This was on the whole a wonderful opportunity to present Krishna Consciousness and Vedic culture to the public through a variety of mediums ranging from art, culture, music and philosophy. A radio station - FM 93.8 has also approached the devotees to broadcast regular thrice weekly programmes regarding Krishna Consciousness and music.
The devotees in Singapore have not obtained this level of enthusiastic response in all of the many years that they have been preaching in Singapore. Srila Prabhupada very much wanted the Chinese in Singapore to take up Krishna Consciousness and help fulfil his desire for Singapore. We see this now taking root. By strictly following His Divine Grace's instructions and by firmly placing him in the centre of their spiritual lives, the devotees in Singapore are witnessing so many hitherto unfulfilled goals becoming gradually manifest to them. This active propagation of Krishna Consciousness into the heart of the Chinese population, instead of just living off the immigrant Indian population, is just further evidence of the IRM's program of reviving ISKCON according to Srila Prabhupada's actual instructions.
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