Israel Here We Are!
Via a flight through Amman on Royal Jordanian, I arrived at Tel-Aviv in the late morning greeted by smiles, flowers and a packet of wrapped Middle Eastern halava. I indulged in the sesame sweet and in a great dose of aloe vera drink, a favourite. We headed for the home of a Krishna devotee family, Bhakta Das, Gandhari and their daughter for a blessed meal dominated by two types of olives. Yummy!
After a snooze for catching up on lost hours of rest we headed for Tel-Aviv beach promenade and for the regular weekend sankirtan chanting at this prominent spot. People did rally around us and many joined in, especially to the dancing to mridanga and djembe drums. My perceptions about Jewish orthodoxy being prevalent here were dispelled. There is enough liberality here to allow devotees to “fit in”. One devotee said that with two gay pride parades held in the downtown annually makes this city the gay capital of the world. He also said many prostitutes frequent and reside in the area of the downtown Krishna center. To balance this measure many tourists with families make a point to take in the sea breeze, the sun, sand and now to stumble upon the chanting party.
One bare-chested young fellow with a goatee reminded us of Shiva the God of dissolution. His Tai Chi - like movements in the midst of our chanting endorsed our Vedic fun. One lanky tall woman with lengthy hair tossed her strands about in a type of beautiful abandon moving to our reggae slanted kirtan.
Bala Krishna, coordinator during my stay in Israel, said that the chanting should end in order to honour the final program, a sat-sang (devotional gathering) at the center. We trekked a short kilometre to the spot to conduct a talk on the Gita’s verse, “of purifiers I am the wind; of wielders of weapons, I am Rama; of fish I am the shark and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.” The verse rings like a mantra and has a message so profound: whatever is prominent in the atmosphere that is a representation of God.