Toronto Sankirtan Story 2011 – EVERYONE Matters, Every BIT counts!
By Mahasundari Madhavi devi dasi
At the end of 2010, the Toronto Sankirtan Team set an ambitious goal to distribute a minimum of 35,000 books during 2011. This seemed like a tall task given that it was more than three times the number of books distributed in the whole of 2009! But as Srila Prabhupada emphatically said, “Impossible is a word in a fool’s dictionary.” Devotees in Toronto truly imbibed that mood and endured extreme weather conditions, personal challenges and other difficulties to go out and distribute the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to everyone they met on the streets.
Nothing could deter them extreme heat, rain, snow, freezing winds, extreme cold, smokers, drunkards, drug addicts. And this feeling intensified even more during the Prabhupada Marathon 2011 which ran from November 19th till December 31st. The goal for Marathon was 10,000 books, double the 2010 goal. Devotees took the challenge with gusto and wanted to please Srila Prabhupada by their intense endevour to distribute books. Vaisesika Prabhu and Nirakula Mataji’s visit in early December helped to inspire more and more devotees to go out daily. Devotees tried to approach every single person they met and leave them with a gift in the holiday spirita book, mantra card, a lollypop, cookies, or just a smile! The marathon slogan this year was “EVERYONE Matters, Every BIT Counts”. Staying true to the slogan, each and every member of the community participated by doing their bit. Devotees went out on sankirtan, made prasadam for devotees who went out, donated books for Sastra dana, devised and executed innovative ideas for book distribution, bought books as presents for their friends, provided rides when required, and much, much more. All these efforts were important contributions to the ever-increasing tally.
On December 25th, devotees were short of their target of 10,000 by over 300 books. December 26th marks “Boxing Day” in Canada, when thousands of shoppers hit the malls and stores to find bargains and annual sales. Devotees were not going to miss this opportunity – they were also out as early as 6am to catch the early bird shoppers. With each distributed book, the smiles on devotees’ faces grew, as the anticipation and excitement of meeting their target grew. At 5:30pm, by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, the 10,000th book was distributed. Devotees erupted into a loud and ecstatic kirtan, and thanked Srila Prabhupada for giving them the chance to share the beautiful mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu with everyone in the city. Sankirtan efforts continued all the way until the midnight harinama on December 31st at Toronto’s famous City Hall.
By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, Toronto devotees distributed 11,401 books during the Prabhupada Marathon, 60% of which were distributed through street sankirtan! The total for 2011 was 36,954 distributed books. Some of the other highlights for 2011 were:
The second anniversary of Toronto’s Monthly Sankirtan Festival was celebrated at Niagara Falls with lots of kirtan and lollypops and about 100 devotees
Devotees participated in many multicultural summer festivals around Ontario in smaller cities like Guelph and Kitchener. They also took part in the famous Word on the Street Festival in Toronto (showcasing different authors and books), and for the second time in the Beatles Festival in Orillia.
The second annual Maha-mantra Week was a huge success with exciting events happening almost every day for 10 days
An innovative way of distributing books with sweet boxes during festivals like Diwali and Christmas was introduced, which met with resounding success
During the month of Kartik, a ‘Book Club’ was launched to encourage devotees to read a book each month. Inspired by its success, Book Club continued through December and is going strong in 2012!
Huge progress was made with Sastra-dana placements when 700+ Bhagavad-Gitas were placed in 40+ hospitals across the Greater Toronto Area, and many more in motels and libraries
After a very successful year, 2012 promises to be even more special. The beauty of our Krishna Consciousness movement is that the sky is the limit and there are so many more opportunities to grow. The beginning of a new year is a good time to introspect and plan for the upcoming year. In that spirit, the Toronto Sankirtan Organizing Team recently had a planning session to discuss the priorities and goal for 2012.
The key priorities for 2012 are:
‘Nama Ruci’ – emphasis on maintaining sincere and serious sadhana
‘Vaisnava Seva’ – cultivating and serving devotees to make sure they are inspired in their Krishna Consciousness
‘Jiva Doya’ – to show mercy and compassion to those we meet and share with them the teachings of Bhakti Yoga unconditionally
The Goal for 2012 has been set at 40,000 books, which is an increase from last year, and is inspired by the 40th anniversary of the installation of Toronto’s beloved deities Sri Sri
Radha Ksiracora Gopinatha as well as 40th annual the Rathayatra festival taking place this year.
It is no small feat, but the comforting words of our acarya, Krsnadas Kaviraja Goswami from
Caitanya Caritamrita Adi Lila 14.1 provide daily encouragement:
“Things that are very difficult to do become easy to execute if one somehow or other simply remembers Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. But if one does not remember Him, even easy
things become very difficult. To this Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu I offer my respectful obeisances.”