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Krishna Temple in its glory

Religious tours can script the story of sustainability and financial empowerment in local villages. This fact has been proven true by the Hare Krishna Movement in Jaipur.

The movement has been helping the locals in Vrindavan and Gokul villages to stand on their own and earn a decent livelihood, even during the pandemic when all other earning resources were shut due to Covid induced lockdown.

In the last one year, when the lockdown eased, the organisation organised a few 'yatras' to Vrindavan on request of their devotees in which strict Covid protocols and the government guidelines were followed. These religious trips did help the locals in Gokul earn money at a time when all other resources were shut.

Festive celebration on the streets of Vrindavan. Photo by bhupesh pal on Unsplash

The methodology of this spiritual organisation to engage locals is quite different as they select one community member who works as a guide, while another person shortlisted by them may elaborate about the significance of cows and help in collecting donations for their fodder which is then distributed to the community. Similarly, the other chosen members can be good storytellers.

However, at the end of the day, they all distribute their earnings among their community members, confirmed the team members.

In Vrindavan Dham, in particular, in a village-like Gokul, religious tours play a very important role for the people of Braj. The Brijwasi guides help the travellers in knowing the ancient stories, connecting the places to the mythological place and what not. In fact, these guides solely depend on donations of pilgrims and as a mark of return, they serve them selflessly. They welcome and tell about the pastimes of Lord Krishna and also serve the cows, says Mitasana Dasa, President, Hare Krishna Movement, Jaipur.

In fact, during the pandemic, the Hare Krishna Movement, Jaipur has been all busy connecting with devotees using online video conferencing applications, conducting a few yatras to Vrindavan following Covid protocols scripting the sustainability story while its NGO Akshay Patra helped the needy by serving 12 crore cumulative meals till April 30, 2021 even at a time when there was a pandemic lull at many religious places.

Local business on the ancient streets of India. Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash

Now, as the Janmashtami celebration approaches near, their team is very much concerned about public health, and hence has set plans to celebrate this Janmashtami online.

"It will be broadcasted on our social media channels 'Hare Krishna Jaipur'. Also, we are requesting the public to stay at home and get online darshan. They can offer their Seva online and shall be delivered prasadam to their home, said Siddha Svarupa Das, Media Coordinator, Hare Krishna Movement Jaipur

The Janmashtami celebration is famous across the globe here.

"It is very difficult to convince people not to come to the temple on the day of Janmashtami where their devotion to Lord Krishna is high. So we are making the public aware that there will be only online darshan. In fact, even during the pandemic, we have been connecting with devotees via online meeting platforms using different online video conferencing applications like Zoom, WhatsApp, Telegram, Google meet, etc., he added further.

Meanwhile, Mitasana Dasa said, "As a part of special arrangements made by them during the pandemic to help the needy, Akshay Patra served 16.01 crore cumulative meals.

Hindu priest during a religious ceremony. Photo by Church of the King on Unsplash

He further said, "Very few yatras have been organised in the last one year. When the government opened the lockdown, the tours were organised following the government guideline at the request of the devotees, especially for Vrindavan while keeping Covid protocols in mind.

When asked about special plan for the coming months, Mitasana Dasa said, "Devotees from all over the globe will be connected together to take a pledge to follow spirituality (Krishna Consciousness) or Bhakti Yoga a month later to celebrate Srila Prabhupada Ashrya programme on 2nd October."

(This article is originally written by Archana Sharma, IANS/PJ)

Keywords: Hare Krishna, Religion, Local growth, Development, businesses


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