The ISKCON Connecticut Temple has been open in East Hartford for over 40 years. The temple has a small close-knit community, with about 50-60 regular congregation members visiting the center every Sunday. In 2017, they bought a new building in Glastonbury, a suburb near Hartford, CT, and renovation is underway. When the Deity altar and new commercial kitchen are complete, relocation to Glastonbury will take place.
When COVID struck, the temple community at ISKCON Connecticut, USA, was worried as were most of the organizations worldwide. When the pandemic induced lockdown happened, it forced the members to think of ways to maintain engagement and association with other devotees.
By the grace of Lord Krishna and the guidance from the overall ISKCON community, things started to take shape. At first, the Sunday feast moved online to zoom, with live aarti and darshan. Slowly devotees started looking at the positive aspects of the forced lockdown.
Romapada Swami said in one of his lectures, "Covid has given us opportunity to do things that we were not able to do earlier. We are saving travel time of 1-2 hours every day. We can use that time to read books, listen to lectures, and do things that we always wanted to do but were not able to do due to lack of time!!"
The community found innovative ways of outreach and book distribution. They started daily Bhagavad Gita lectures and discussion sessions in the evenings and Sri Isopanisad lecture series Saturday evenings. To ensure that devotee children are also associated with their Sunday School friends, the Sunday School was also moved online. There is also a Bhagavad Gita Sloka Recital session for kids Saturday evenings. The community is also doing daily morning Srimad Bhagavatam reading sessions.
With all these sessions and events happening on a daily and weekly basis, the community is more connected and bonding even better. In addition to all this, the community also got together virtually, planned and conducted many festivals like Janamastami, Vyasa Puja, Panihati Chida Dahi festival, Snan Yatra Festival, Jagannath Ratha Yatra, Balarama Jayanti and more with a lot of enthusiasm and commitment.
Snana Yatra festival on August 30, 2020 (Festival of giving bath to deities) held outdoors and live on Zoom (Pic 1: Deities of Jagannath, Subhadra and Baladev after Snana)
Snana Yatra festival on August 30, 2020 (Festival of giving bath to deities) held outdoors (Pic 2: Devotees at the function attending the event in-person with social distancing and mask guidelines)
The community plans to build on the momentum and continue to hold festivities online and keep helping each other grow spiritually together. During Covid, although the Temple was closed for Darshans/programs, the temple work kept moving forward. The work on the construction in the kitchen and altar is almost complete and is ready to welcome devotee families as soon as the situation becomes normal.
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For more details about the programs of ISKCON Connecticut, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. ISKCON Connecticut community can also be found on facebook here, and online here. The author of this post can be reached at email@example.com
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