With the sun shining, we departed on our coach heading for Bhaktivedanta Manor, a place of worship for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, perhaps better known as the Hare Krishna denomination or ISKCON.
We were greeted by Alison and Daya who welcomed us and took us straight to the worship/prayer room. Once we removed our shoes and entered the main hall, our breath was taken away by the beauty of the murtis (statues of the deities) of Lord Krishna, Radha, Lord Rama, Sita, Laxman, and Hanuman. Next, we were treated to a tour of the beautiful grounds. The old manor house was bought by George Harrison (from the Beatles) in 1973 and donated to His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for ISKCON worship, education, and accommodation.
We were given a tour which included the beautiful flower gardens, lake and goshalla (cow sanctuary) where we were treated to a short Ox-cart ride and an opportunity to feed the cows. Following a delicious lunch of tomato and pea curry with paneer (cheese), chips, rice and a puri (fried bread) we were set some group work and discussion tasks by Alison and gained further knowledge and understanding of the beliefs, teachings and practices of Hinduism beyond our studies in the classroom! Finally, we dressed up in saris and enjoyed face painting with flowers and patterns – we truly experienced kama (delight in the senses) and bhakti (loving devotion) as our hosts were so wonderfully generous and kind.
On our way out we managed to catch a glimpse of preparations for a Hindu wedding which looked incredible! A great day was had by all and we have definitely all learnt something new about Hinduism from the experience.