Diwali is one of the most important festivals for Hindus in the Indian subcontinent and for Hindu Diaspora: the festival of lights (triumph of good over evil). And, Govardhan Puja is a key festival for the devotees and followers of Lord Krishna and among the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temples. Govindas the ISKCON temple-cum-restaurant celebrated both the festivals on Sunday, 4 November, 2018.
Children made a mountain of sweets symbolically called Govardhan Hill and enacted plays oriented towards Krishna consciousness. Many devotees gathered at Govindas with their friends and families for the festivals ranging from singing and dancing and chanting. Govardhan Puja is celebrated to mark the powers of Krishna – who in Bhagavata Puranam lifts the Govardhan Hill in Vrindavan to protect the villagers from torrential rains (God comes to the rescue of his devotees).
Jahnva Karunamayi devi dasi said spiritual events and spiritual occasions such as Rama Lila and Krishna Lilia are important. “Remembering them we come closer to God,” she noted. “Diwali is also welcoming back Lord Ram to Ayodhya … in India they light candles. It is also inviting God back to our hearts. It is cultural, and spiritual, also has a deep meaning … God is like a candle in our heart.”
“We do cook so many varieties of vegetables and so many dessert items, appetisers to our Lord Krishna since he is our main lord. Keeping happiness these days is our main motive. There are many devotees coming and they are cooking or bringing some vegetables or cooked items from home,” said Krishna Dhan. He is a resident of Sweden but hails from Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a country of Muslim majority and Hindu minority unlike India. Krishna Dham is a follower of Lord Krishna which he attributed to Sanatana Dharma. He and his wife prepared the cherished Bengali dessert ‘rasgulla or rosogolla’. He said, “This is a free day for everyone, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Christian can come today so that we can offer food and get some happiness and to get blessings from lord.”
Chef and devotee István Sándor made vegetarian and vegan food for devotees ranging from palak paneer (cottage cheese) to raspberry lassi. Prasadam (food offered to god, then served to devotees) was offered to the attendees as a free Sunday dinner.
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