COVER STORY

Hues of faith

34-Devotees-singing Joyous mood: Devotees singing hymns and dancing in the temple.

A temple in the US is making a splash with its annual Festival of Colours

Before coming to the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, Bryanne Noritsky knew nothing about Krishna or his mythical legacy. Noritsky chanced upon the temple while exploring the sights of Spanish Fork in Utah, USA. “I’m part of a workaway community and discovered the Radha Krishna Temple through them,” says Noritsky, who has been staying at the temple for more than two weeks.

“This is the only temple in the country built amidst nature. That amazes me,” she says. “A year ago, I was supposed to go to India and it didn’t happen. But through my stay at the temple, I’m learning many things Indian—how to eat, how to get dressed, different types of food and even about ayurveda. One day when I finally visit India, my stay here will help me understand Indian culture better. I’m getting to meet so many people, some of whom have been Krishna devotees for 20 years.”

Modelled after the Kusum Sarovar, a sandstone monument in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, the temple was built 12 years ago by Christopher Warden and his wife, Christine, who became Caru Das and Vaibhavi Devi after joining the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Today, the temple is known for organising its annual Festival of Colours, which is attended by followers and non-followers alike.

Joe Perry, now known by the name Jai Krishna Das, was fascinated by the concept of a personal god. “I met two devotees who invited me to a Sunday feast programme; that was the first time I saw an aarti and attended a class on Bhagvad Gita,” he says. “I loved the prasad and kirtan music. That was in 1988.”

Michelle Newitt visited the temple to witness the Festival of Colours and fell in love with the kirtan sessions. “I have been coming here for a year. One thing that stands out to me is the whole bhakti culture—kirtans, music and dancing. My soul calls for it,” says Newitt.

For Jessica Howe, it was the beauty and power of the mantras that created an impact. “I can leave and come back but the mantras will still mean the same,” says Howe.

In 2013, Kanak Das, a priest from India, moved into the temple with his family. “When visitors come, I take them on a temple tour,” says Das. “Some visitors want to understand the philosophy and, especially the goal of the society.”

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