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In the News:
Tony Blair praises Krishna Celebrations

submitted by ISKCON Communications UK

Posted September 2, 2004

The annual Hare Krishna Janmashtami festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, promises to be the biggest ever celebration of its kind in the United Kingdom attracting over 60,000 pilgrims from around the UK.

The festivities, rooted in a 5,000 year old spiritual tradition will take place over two days on Sunday the 5th of September and Monday the 6th of September 2004 at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the headquarters of the Hare Krishna movement in the UK.

"I am delighted to send my very best wishes to everyone attending the Janmashtami Festival at the ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple, said Prime Minister Tony Blair. Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna, is a festival that teaches us the values of the family, the importance of justice, and the significance of faith. As such, it is a festival whose values are shared by all faith traditions. I offer my best wishes and greetings to the Hindu community in Britain on this joyous occasion. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is an example of how faith communities make an important contribution to building strong active communities and are engaged in a huge range of voluntary activities which benefit the wider community," he added.

Messages of support were also received from leaders of all the opposition parties (see below).

"As with all great religious traditions the appearance day of the Lord is a most significant event and is an occasion for great joy and celebration. Janmashtami is certainly no different," said Praghosa das, the newly appointed leader of the Hare Krishna movement in the UK.

Janmashtami attracts a congregation of pilgrims inclusive of all spiritual cultures. The festival of the birth of Lord Krishna is a feast for the body, mind and spirit, a whirl of colour, dance, drama & music. Meditation, yoga, multi-media shows all assist families from all walks of life to reconfirm their spiritual commitments and service in honour of God. The traditional free vegetarian food, which has become the trademark of the Hare Krishnas, will be available in abundance to end a perfect spiritual experience.

"Janmashtami is the most celebrated festival in the Hindu tradition. Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims travel from across the country to offer their homage, prayers, and worship to Lord Krishna on the day of His appearance. At this festival you will experience an atmosphere of profound joy, inner illumination and peace", says Gauri das, Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple President.

The main celebration areas will features Indian Vedic culture as it relates to Spirituality (Who am I? Who is God?); Food (as a stepping stone to God realisation); and the Arts (a cultural presentation for the re-spiritualisation of society). The temple building will be transformed with colourful, educational exhibits depicting the pastimes of Lord Krishna as they took place over 5000 years ago.

Janmashtami is observed by one billion Hindus in the world and is now celebrated in over 360 ISKCON temples and communities worldwide.

ISKCON, founded by His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is part of the ancient Vaishnava tradition, a monotheistic faith within Hinduism.

Message from the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Michael Howard: (selected quote)

"We feel proud to join millions of Hindus celebrating Janmastami, the birth of Lord Krishna. We congratulate the International Society for Krishna Consciousness for organising the largest Hindu festival to be celebrated outside India. The Bhaktivedanta Manor centre in the UK is a primary example of how faith traditions can make an effective contribution to the integration and development of the communities that have recently made Britain their home."

Message from the President of the Liberal Democratic Party, Lord Dholakia: (selected quote):

"We congratulate the International Society for Krishna Consciousness for organising the largest Janmashtami festival outside India at their Bhaktivedanta Manor centre in the UK. It is a celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna, who is worshiped by one billion Hindus worldwide. The teachings of Lord Krishna, and His emphasis on the individual's contribution to society, has influenced the remarkable contribution made by the Hindu community in Britain."