A really nice perk about my spiritual community is we never have to think twice about the “D-word” when raising our kids. Diversity is a given as Hare Krishnas can be found all over the world doing all sorts of things (hopefully good things!). Recently we attended a festival at the Hare Krishna farm a mile from our house. In attendence were people from Ghana, Nigeria, India, Belize, Guyana, South Africa, Croatia, Australia, China and such exotic locales as West Virginia, Massachusetts, DC and New Jersey. Oh! And don’t forget Canada.
Another nice perk about my spiritual community is that Hare Krishnas like to eat! Upon taking spiritual initiation from a guru, the disciple vows to live a godly life by refraining from meat eating, sex outside of marriage and intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol. I know that is hard for some people to believe since they may think of Hare Krishnas as a bunch of pychadelic freaks, but really,we don’t do that stuff. The freakiest thing may be that the super strict Hare Krishnas even vow to not eat chocolate because of its intoxicating effect. Maybe they should only vow to abstain from really good, expensive chocolate. The vow I took was to not buy crappy Hershey’s. If it doesn’t cost at least 2 bucks a bar, I’ll pass.
Anyway, cooking and eating are a big part of Hare Krishna culture. We cook for God first, ourselves second. (Don’t ask me who that bar of Green & Black’s for.) There is a lot of meditation and ritualistic stuff which goes into cooking pure vegetarian food. But also, as you may have noticed from the list of “do nots” associated with getting initiated into the cult (and I use that word in a purely tongue in cheeky isn’t it fun to be part of a religious movement that’s suffered a bad reputation kind of way), there aren’t a lot of sensual things we Hare Krishnas allow ourselves to take pleasure in. Eating palatable things often takes the place of enjoying in other arenas of life’s pleasure palaces.
What would a festival be without a feast? While most Hare Krishna feasts are Indian smorgasboards of rice, dal, puris, sabji and kheer, this feast was an unusual homage to the tastes of the Western bred tongue. Greens with tofu, pizza, french fries, gluten kabobs and cheesecake were among the temptations too divine to resist. Thankfully for my spiritual life, eating can be considered a form of yoga (things you never knew!) when the proper consciousness is present in the cooking and eating processes. Unfortunately for my tummy, I am not used to eating such an assortment of rich things in one sitting. Alright, I pigged out…but so did everyone else! Anyway, I ended up with a big tummy ache (that sounds better than what I really got).
As you can see from these festival pictures, it definitely had a distinctive flavor not found at most Hare Krishna events. Djembe drums and African dance may seem out of place in central Pennsylvania, but anyone familiar with Gita Nagari Farm or Bhakti Tirtha Swami, whom the festival was held in memory of, would know that you can’t have Yasoda Mayi’s all you can eat curried kabobs without first working up an appetite chanting and dancing.