What was most memorable about your first Hare Krishna feast?
I was hungry and looking for God, and my friend said, “Let’s go to the Krishna temple.”
“Who?” I said.
And so we headed off to the Hare Krishna temple at 1400 Cherry St., Denver, Colorado, in the spring of 1971. I walked in the front door, and there they were, chanting and dancing.
“No,” my friend said, “those are the Pentecostals. They’re moving out. The Krishnas are downstairs.
So we walked around the building, went downstairs, and there they were, chanting and dancing—and breaking mridangas!
It was the play “Lord Chaitanya and Chand Kazi,” in which Lord Chaitanya performs an act of civil disobedience by flouting the Muslim magistrate’s ban on the public chanting of Hare Krishna.
The devotee actors were so absorbed in their parts and the audience was so intrigued that we happily joined the “protest” kirtana and laughed and danced and took part in the celebration feast.
The exciting drama had captured us, and whether we knew it or not, we had all joined the sankirtana movement of Lord Chaitanya.
It was a cold, chilly winter evening. After a lecture by a senior devotee, all the assembled people went to the rooftop of the house to receive prasada. It was freezing, but the prasada was served absolutely hot, and it was so beautifully cooked. That was two or three years ago, but I still remember exactly how the prasada tasted.
On a Sunday in May 1985, I was working in Tyler, Texas, and my coworkers decided to go to Six Flags in Dallas, three hours away. I asked them to drop me at the Hare Krishna temple in the morning and pick me up later at night. When they did, it was too late—the chanting, gulabjamuns, sweet rice, and pakoras (what to speak of Tamal Krishna Goswami’s preaching) were powerful enough for me to stay in Dallas for three months. I never went back “home,” and even though my devotion leaves much to be desired, on that day Krishna entered my heart and never left.
Chaitanya Nrisimha Dasa
San Antonio, Texas
I was a seventeen-year-old flower child in 1971, living in the Rocky Mountains with a group of hippies. A few of us came down to Boulder one Sunday, and they brought me to the Hare Krishna temple so we could get some free food.
In our eagerness we arrived early. The devotees (there were only five) were busy preparing for the large crowd. Someone asked me to make a flower garland for Subhadra. Of course, I didn’t even know what a deity was. I was shown this small yellow smiling figure on the altar. I smiled back at her.
I was asked to go pick some flowers and sew them on a string. This made sense to me. Subhadra would want to wear flowers, since we flower children always did. So I happily went about this task and gave the garland to one of the devotees.
The crowds started arriving, and the chanting began. I looked at the altar, and there between a white smiling figure and a black smiling figure stood smiling Subhadra, wearing the garland I had made her. She was glowing.
And so was I. I don’t remember what the “free food” was that day, but I felt good in my heart, as I had experienced my first taste of devotional service by Subhadra Devi’s mercy. And I wanted more.
Wheeling, West Virginia
It was not only the feast, but the entire program of lecture, questions and answers, and—wow!—the delicious vegetarian feast. It was like something I had been waiting years for.
I had started on a vegetarian diet the year before, so after meeting some Hare Krishnas and being enlightened with the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, I began to wonder what I’d done to deserve such mercy.
It has been more than fifteen years since my first Hare Krishna Sunday feast, and I am eternally grateful to the devotee (who passed away some years ago) for asking me, “Do you know the name Krishna?”
When I first went to an ISKCON temple for a Sunday feast, I was thinking, “Every Indian temple serves prasada, so what’s so special about this place?”
Later, when I was served prasada, I was dumbstruck. I had never tasted anything more delicious in my entire life. Surely it was actual prasada—mercy from the Lord. Because of that mercy, I am now striving to be a devotee and a servant of guru and Gauranga
My first Hare Krishna feast was wonderful. It was the Festival of the Chariots in Orlando, Florida (2006). I was going through a rough time in my life. I’d been introduced to Krishna in 2003 and was going to the Orlando temple fairly regularly. I was working on my bad habits and trying my hardest to eat vegetarian. But I was not living right, so I drifted away from Krishna. Fortunately for me, I had a devotee friend who kept me updated on events.
I loved the festival. During the procession it started to rain heavily. A bunch of us ended up on side streets under awnings. Eventually, a devotee in a white van took us back to Lake Eola, where the festivities were going on.
I have many photos of the festival, and I can look at them and hope that I have made some progress, as my living situation has improved. A lot of things still need improvement in my life, but at least I am not acting in ways I was in the past.
My first Hare Krishna feast was during Deepawali in 2007 at the Akurdi (Pune) ISKCON temple. The feast was prepared by the brahmacharis. As a nutritionist, I noted that the prasada, besides being spiritual, contained the six essential nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and moisture. I experienced it to be scientifically balanced. Having been offered to Lord Krishna, the prasada turned out to be energetic. A congregation of three hundred to four hundred people felt highly empowered by positive thoughts, as evidenced by their cheerful expressions.
Raman Rao, Nutritionist
G.B. Pant University
I came to know about Hare Krishna feasts for the first time when I read the book Prabhupada. I prayed to the Lord that I would get an opportunity to taste such nice prasada offered to the Lord.
On January 1, 2006, my brother and sister and I decided to visit some temples of Guwahati. I thought, “Why not visit the ISKCON temple, where beautiful deities are there to bless all of us.”
I wanted to spend some time in a devotional environment instead of roaming around. I went there just to offer respects to the deities. I never expected a full meal. At that time I didn’t know much about ISKCON or prasada. After the end of the chanting session and the Bhagavad-gita class, we were about to return home when a devotee requested us to have prasada. I thanked the devotee and Lord Krishna for fulfilling my desire. I felt as if I had come to Lord Krishna’s house and just like a loving host He had seated us and offered us a nice meal. I felt blessed.
Prabhupada said that we receive the Lord’s mercy directly through prasada. Such a nice way to develop spirituality! From that time I always offer my food first to the Lord and then take it as prasada so that I can purify my material existence, and I tell others to do the same.
The memory of my first Sunday Love Feast is as vivid today as it was when I first stepped into that humble Vancouver temple back in the summer of ‘71. It was by far my most intense experience ever, one that was to change my life forever.
Upon entering the brightly colored blue and saffron second-story loft, nestled in the dull industrial city landscape, I felt transported into another dimension of reality and beauty. The intensely attractive sights, sounds, and smells of this amazingly effulgent spiritual oasis excited all my senses. And the half dozen devotees scurrying about in preparation for the Love Feast were all so very sincere and so kind to me. I just dove into the kirtana and was blown away by the delicious prasada.
After my third Sunday feast, I became so inspired and uplifted by the devotees’ association and the miraculously sweet Love Feasts that I finally decided to join them for good, only six weeks after my first encounter. I remain eternally grateful to the Lord’s devotees for their matchless hospitality and mercy upon me.