One of the principle practices of Vaishnavism, is the chanting of the holy names of God. This can be done both be done, individually on meditation beads and congregationally, accompanied by musical instruments. It is considered that by chanting God’s name one directly associates with Him and will become purified and lose the taste for material enjoyment.
The mantra which is chanted by Vaishnavas in general and ISKCON devotees in specific is the Hare Krishna maha mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. The initiated devotees of ISKCON chant these names on a string of 108 beads, 16 times. This takes devotees about 2 hours and is usually performed in the early hours of the morning. Congregational chanting is performed in the association of other devotees.
Aside from chanting the names of God, serious devotees also follow four regulative principles: no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication and no gambling. It is believed by Vaishnavas that these activities must be regulated because they perpetuate our material condition.
Other practices include distributing Vedic literature, which is written by acharyas, or self-realized souls who teach by example. Distributing Vedic literature is considered to be the supreme welfare work because it can help the souls of the people who receive it. Another practice of Vaishnavas is the worship of the authorized form of the Lord in the temple, which has been carved according to descriptions given in scripture and has been installed be an authorized acharya. Vaishnavas consider that Krishna will accept worship and reciprocate with the devotee through the authorized form of the Lord in the temple.
Deity worship includes cooking food and offering it to the Deity, preparing clothes for and dressing the Deity, and performing arati, which is a worship ceremony involving the Deity. The concept of Deity worship is based on the idea that God is spiritual and although present everywhere, not visible to our material eyes, so out of His mercy, He appears in a form that we can recognize. This is described by Prabhupada in The Science of Self Realization, “You cannot see spirit, and God is the Supreme Spirit. Therefore, to show kindness to you, He appears out of His unbounded mercy in the form of a wooden or stone Deity so that you can see Him."