Japathon : Catch Them Young
Posted January 30, 2009
Catch them young or old or distressed or in misery on the occasion of 1st January.
Everyone knows about Srila Prabhupada book distribution Marathon around holidays, however, what is this Japa-tha-on?
HG Ananta Rupa
Well. Japathon started at Boise, Idaho, USA temple. Temple president HG Ananta Rupa (photo) came with a brilliant idea in 1998. Instead of celebrating on 31st Dec midnight, let us start New Years day with chanting extra rounds. What can be better way to start New Year? www.boisetemple.org/Japathon2005.html
For the last ten years, Boise has witnessed some devotees
chant 70+ rounds, some 25 and some visitors (especially
kids) chant their very first round. Everyone's score (total number of rounds) is read before Sri Sri Radha Banke Bihari, presiding deities of Boise, Idaho.
I was event coordinator at Potomac, MD first Japathon event. We started event at 9AM by putting chanting beads on Srila Prabhupada's (deity) hands and played his chanting Mahamantra CD. More than 200 people participated in chanting and estimated 108 people chanted for the first time. Lord Krishna constantly sent many eager visitors. I felt they were more eager for chanting than prasadam J We approached individuals or groups of 4, gave them japa beads and showed them how to chant. Our temple has 2 big message boards nailed on wall, one with Mahamantra and other with Pranama mantra. These boards were helpful.
Demonstrating chanting was such a joyful and easy process. After chanting some newcomers honored prasadam and they naturally became receptive to philosophy. They asked many questions while eating. Some visitors did not
return japa beads, while honoring prasadam, because they loved
beads and did not want to wait for japa beads.
Radha Sakhi Vrnda
I was really impressed with many kids aged 3-10 and few teenagers who chanted their first round (in this life) with rapt attention. Many of these kids and their parents came to ISKCON temple for the first time. The event was especially enjoyable for congregation kids and youth who got a taste for chanting and engaged in some friendly competition. They chanted like veterans. Here is score: Om - 20, Radha Sakhi Vrnda -10, Yash -5, Mohan - 2.
At 6 PM, we announced if visitors will like to chant japa and they so enthusiastically opted for it over kirtan. We ran out of our 40 sets of japa beads. Some visitors purchased japa beads. People are currently so receptive to chanting, may be due to economy. They sometimes want to come to quite temple and just chant. I wish we had separate quite chanting rooms, like they have smoking rooms at public places.
Here are some comments we received from participants:
- Oh wow, do you do chanting/meditation here? I am going to chant on 1000 beads today. (~10 rounds) - visitor.
- It must be Godsend that we came to temple and we got to chant your mantra. We are so fortunate. - Poonam Chimurkar
- It is actually nice that you repeatedly requested to chant, else I don't chant at home with kids. - Sanjeev Astavansh
- I usually chant 1 round at home, but today God gave mercy, so I chanted 5 rounds. - Yash Shahi (7 yr old)
- I wanted to do 16 rounds, but Partha Sarathi Prabhu told me that quality is more important. I tried to do 10 good rounds. - Radha Sakhi Vrnda (10 yr old)
- Wow, I and my daughter can't stop chanting. Where can we buy these beads? - Shikha Bhatnagar
My deepest gratitude to cooks, cleaners, pujaris, kirtaniyas and countless others. All of them had also helped in the year end eve program and had slept at 2AM!!
What a great way to start new year than greeting the Lord, chanting and receiving and sharing His blessings for a happy year ahead!!! Japathon was also observed at Phoenix, AZ and Salt Lake City, UT ISKCON temples this year. May be next year many more temples join this tradition and post scores. What a transcendental competition that will be.
Bhaktin Nisha is an aspiring disciple of HH Radhanatha Swami. (Nisha.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here is our scoreboard and thank you list!
Anuttama Prabhu (TP & GBC) for constant encouragement and guidance.
Cooks (Caitanya Nitai, Paramdham, Uttam Shloka, Nita, Radha Bhavini, Neeta Patel and family, Jamuna mataji and many others.
Pujaris (Nita Patel's mother), Uttamsloka Prabhu and Papustai prabhu.
Nita for keeping kitchen and prasadam area very clean.
Devotees who chanted more than 16 rounds.
Sampat Kari - 48+ Lavanya Kari - 32+ Devaprastha - 32+ Padmamalini - 25+ Nanda Kumar - 26 Nayana Manjari - 21+ Om Shahi - 20 Nilesh Shahi - 20 Nisha Chopada - 17 Laxmuna Mataji - 25 Gauranga Prema Dasa - 17 Sunil Kumar Appaboyan - 25
Devotees who chanted 16 rounds at temple
Anuttama Prabhu, Krsna Caran , Nita (kitchen), Chaitanya Nitai
Others: 6+ Rounds chanted at temple
Sharmista Nita Jigish and Hetal Patel Padma and Murari Jyoti & Ashwini Agarwal Manisha Tewari Radha Sakhi Vrnda Sarbani & Lajji Sanjeev Astavansh
250+ others who chanted less than 6 rounds.