Hare Krishna festival offers public a chance to visit

The Herald-Sun, Aug. 7, 2003
http://www.herald-sun.com/
By David Hunt : The Herald-Sun

DURHAM — HILLSBOROUGH — By the banks of the Eno, along Dimmocks Mill Road, is a geodesic dome structure. The building is the New Goloka Ashram, the largest Hare Krishna temple in North Carolina.

For those who have driven by and wondered what is on the other side of the fence, they’ll soon get an opportunity to find out. On Aug. 20, from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m., the public is invited to visit and share in the largest celebration of the followers of Krishna.

Around 2,000 people are expected to attend Janmastami — the annual celebration of the first appearance of Krishna.

“It is a traditional celebration that has been taking place in India for thousands and thousands and thousands of years,” said Krishna Priya, president of the New Goloka Temple. It has been celebrated locally since the Hillsborough temple opened in 1985.

An estimated 1,500 people from across the state attended last year’s festival. About 70 percent of the attendees were there for their faith, with the rest curious because the event was open to the public.

Members of the temple cover a broad geographic spectrum. During a short walk on the grounds during a quiet afternoon, one encounters people from Spain, Bosnia, Mexico and Slovenia.

“[The festival] will be a wonderful opportunity for the public to experience cultural diversity,” Priya said.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON, meets at the temple on the edge of Hillsborough. About 15 people live on-site and more than 100 area members generally attend Sunday programs.

The entrance walkway is lined with marigolds. A gazebo and water fountain are visible from the path. The grounds are covered with multiple gardens containing both flowers and herbs. A covered picnic area with flowers hanging in the rafters provides enough shelter to cover 20 picnic tables.

“If someone is not able to go to India, they can come here,” said Kalindi Simic, one of the temple members. “It’s a nice glimpse of the Indian experience.”

The evening celebration will offer music with typical Indian instruments, plays, traditional Indian dance, chanting and activities for children.

“It will be an interesting evening with everything rolled together,” Kalindi noted.

Food will play a major role in the festival as it does in the everyday life of the members. The Krishna faith follows a strict vegetarian diet with no eggs, no fish and no meat. Dairy products are allowed and important for balanced nutrition. Fresh produce is encouraged over canned goods.

“Most strict followers will fast until midnight and then feast,” Kalindi said about the festival. But, there will be a wide variety of foods for guests to sample, including salads, an extensive range of vegetables and breads. Some of the food items, such as dahl, a bean soup made with lentils or mung beans, are not indigenous to North America.

Desserts will be plentiful, with sweet pastries, cakes and puddings.

The festival night will be a joyous evening, said Kalindi’s husband, Govinda. “We would like to share our happiness with others,” he added.

For more information, call the New Goloka Temple at 732-2680.

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