On August 10, ISKCON New Vrindaban attended and participated in the Pittsburgh VegFest, a family fun festival celebrating the joy, science, food, and compassion behind the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle. It has been voted best food festival in Pittsburgh for two years in a row, which has grown to 8,000–10,000 attendees annually. Hosted by the non-profit organization “Justice for Animals” for the fifth year, the festival offered cooking and food demonstrations, vegan and vegetarian food, yoga, and children’s activities.
ISKCON New Vrindaban’s booth, exhibits, and food added a unique flavor to the festival. The devotees used this wonderful opportunity to connect with the local vegan and vegetarian community and showcase New Vrindaban, the Palace of Gold, and especially the cow protection program and sanctuary that celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. The importance of cow protection was promoted by distributing the cow protection newsletters, and cow products like special soaps, dhoop, and incense were sold. Many tourist brochures of New Vrindaban and the Palace of Gold were also distributed together with flyers of the Festival of Colors, a colorful fun event to be held at New Vrindaban on September 14.
Although the festival was officially to start at noon, when the devotees set up their booth at 10am, streams of people were already lining up at the booths. Gopalasya Priya, Siksastakam and Syama Gauri from Pittsburgh, Anuradha, and Nikunja Vilasini used the visitors’ enthusiasm to their advantage by eagerly speaking about and inviting them to New Vrindaban and the Palace of Gold and introducing them to New Vrindaban’s ideals of simple living and high thinking based on cow protection and self-sufficiency.
Several dozens of delicious samosas were distributed, prepared by Ranadhir Krishna, and “Green Goddess Smoothies” were made on the spot with kale from Vidya’s garden. The continual whirring of the blender was heard. People loved the smoothies so much that the devotees ran out of kale and eventually had to make fruit smoothies. To heighten the visitors’ experience, Devananda made an appearance with his captivating music and singing.
ISKCON Vrindaban hopes to participate in other events like this, which open doorways to people’s search for meaning and fulfillment. We encourage those who are interested in reaching out to people and promoting our Krishna conscious lifestyle and teachings to join us. Please contact Anuradha Dasi for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.