By Her Grace Urvasi Devi Dasi
I live about an hour and a half from the nearest temple. I do preaching programs because I am there by myself. I started the program by having vegetarian cooking classes. I teach a one month course three times a year. After getting to know people and making a lot of friends, I started the Sunday Feast program. I put out flyers and an ad in the newspaper and people started coming.
The number of people quickly grew from twenty-five to forty. Now, over a hundred people attend. There are maybe five devotees, and the rest are guests. We chant for a long time. The guests love to chant and dance and do the Prabhupada step. They are very enthusiastic. I invite guest speakers, or I give the lecture. I chant the Sanskrit verse and then they take turns chanting the verse.
During the kirtana, I give them various instruments to play. Then, there is a huge feast where there is so much prasada that they have to take some home. Last summer was my sixteenth annual Janmastami Festival. There were one hundred and thirty people in my backyard, and I always cook one hundred and eight preparations.
In the winter months, I rent a hall and have the same program. Also, I have devotee bands come. For instance, As Kindred Spirits, Karanamrita, Rasa and His Holiness B.B. Govinda Swami Maharaja came with his band. We have a concert and I serve prasada afterwards. For the concerts, I always have two hundred and twenty-five to two hundred and fifty people, and they all have prasada. I keep track of all of my guests on a database. It is a small community there, so I know many people and I cultivate them on a friendship basis.
When they come through the door I always greet them by name. During the program, I always find a way to talk with everyone. Even if there are one hundred and thirty people there, I always find a way to speak to them. I am really concerned about taking care of everyone, and making sure they have a wonderful experience with good music, philosophical discussion, and then a huge feast.
Each time they say the prasada is getting better and better. As devotees, we do not need permission to do this because Lord Caitanya stated that we should spread Krsna consciousness to every town and village. Individuals can do this even if there is no temple support.
All they have to do is invite people over, chant, talk about the philosophy, and serve prasada. Gradually it will grow. It’s our responsibility. Everyone can do it. Even by simply inviting your neighbors over, we will ensure that Krsna’s name is chanted in every town and village.
(Excerpt from the book ‘The Nectar of Congregational Preaching’ by ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry)
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