New Vrindavan, West Virginia
Peacocks show off what they have. At least the males, three in number, and a fourth, a pure whit one, strut around in full plumage span. Pilgrims click their cameras wanting to take a piece of heaven home. Swans occupy the water nearby - another attractive feature of New Vrndavan. It is around their pond that we roam in repetition.
It is 11 PM and I find it just the perfect situation and time. If it were daytime you would get socially and spiritually obligated to acknowledge others in their stroll. You would inch your way along to do as a swami ought, communicate a few kind and encouraging words. New Vrndavan, a place aesthetically more picturesque that its mother source, Vrndavan, in India, there are hills here. And everything is green and lush. But undeniably spiritual power rests in both territories. We are perceiving a oneness in our comparative study.
And as Vrndavan draws international attention, so does New Vrndavan act like a magnet for North Americans. When coming here on my annual pilgrimage I cannot play the hermit's role. I take to bonding with friends, godbrothers/sisters, disciples, and newly made acquaintances. Their journeys take them from Florida, North Carolina, New York, Detroit, Ohio and Canada, of course. They are enthusiastic, eager beavers to get a taste of home. That feeling is here.
Jaya Krishna, the coordinator for the place, approached me about my opinion of the colours in the main temple's interior. "Some people say the place is too dark. What do you say about giving it a lighter colour?"
"I wouldn't touch it, Jaya. People come here for the rustic atmosphere. It's woodsy. It has that warm cabin-feel early American charm. No one thinks of white washing those sacred granite temples of South India. You go in there and its pitch black except for the occasional flames of ghee and perhaps some tacky wired light bulbs. You've got something unique here. Don't change it!"
I thought I was just going to be a swami at this function, "The Festival of Inspiration", not a consultant for interior decor. You know, I don't mind. I'm honoured to be asked.