On Sunday, May 17th, the TOVP North American Tour arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana to visit the ISKCON temple, fondly named mini-Mayapur by His Holiness Jayapataka Swami because of its congregation of Bengali devotees, many from Sridhama Mayapur. We were greeted by a rousing kirtan and brought to the temple room where the Lord’s Padukas and Sitari received an elaborate abhisheka.
Later in the evening the TOVP presentation was made to a packed temple room full of devotees who drive taxis for a living to maintain their families and support the temple. This was evidenced by the fact that at least 15-20 taxis were parked right outside the temple. Radha Jivana prabhu gave a heartwarming and emotional presentation, and Jananivas prabhu, endeared by all the local devotees as their siksha guru, spoke about Mayapur and the importance of serving this great project.
After the presentation devotees were requested by Radha Jivana to offer their pledges and, one by one, devotees began to sponsor Silver Gratitude Coins for $11,000. There was no end to the pledges. They simply kept coming in until the number of pledged Silver Coins reached 40, more than at any temple previously visited! Along with some Radha Madhava, Pancha Tattva, and Nrsimha Bricks, and Square Foot pledges, the total pledges reached an astounding $460,000 that evening. The ecstatic group of devotees then broke into a half-hour long kirtan, after which prasadam was served.
The next 2 days we visited a number of devotee homes for kirtan and prasadam, always noticing multiple taxis parked outside each home. Devotees continued to make pledges and in the end the number of Silver Coins pledged reached 46. We expect more to follow even after our departure. The total pledges has already surpassed half-a-million dollars.
We are grateful to the Temple President, Shraddhadeva Manu prabhu, and all the devotees there for making this great sacrifice from their humble earnings to the TOVP. They are not wealthy devotees by any means, yet they were willing to make this commitment and pledge for the cause of the TOVP project. Their actions are an example to the world of devotional surrender and service.