The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for parents and kids, as they try to find engagement while staying at home. Here are eleven tried-and-true Krishna conscious activities, as shared by devotee parents themselves!
1. Holding a Backyard Ratha Yatra for Lord Jagannatha
“Mata, what does Jagannatha like to eat the most?” asked my 7-year old Murari. My quick response was “Kaja!” That’s when we decided that we will make kajas and offer to Jagannatha for the first time ever. Another quick thought zoomed into our minds – “Why don’t we have our own Ratha Yatra this year as our Ratha Yatra in San Antonio, Texas is canceled due to COVID? Both Murari and my toddler Vibhavari, 2 years old, had a gala time decorating the cart. They were excited to help pass the tape and scissors and flower petals. We offered the Lord’s favorite Kaja, sang and danced while pulling the Ratha outside our home. It’s one of the fun activities we did during the pandemic! – Nityakishori Dasi
2. Bathing and Dressing Your Deities
My 6-year-old daughter, Ambika, loves to bathe and dress our small Laddhu-Gopal deity. She feels very motherly towards Him, and is always concerned with whether He needs a change of clothes, fresh water or a flower. She polishes him with a Tilak/lemon juice mixture, bathes Him in water, and picks out new outfits and jewelry. My 2-year-old son Nakula wants to get involved as well, so I help him bathe our Nrsimha and Prahlad deities. It’s a very simple, peaceful and grounding activity that keeps them connected to Krsna. – Manjari Smullen
3. Cooking for Krishna
Ever since my boys were 4 and 2, more than a decade ago, they were my companions in the kitchen. Their “TV time” consisted primarily of reruns of Kuma’s Cooking Show. They began even instructing me – “Mommy, you’re not supposed to cut the cauliflower like that. Kurma Prabhu says take it apart with your fingers – don’t cut it all the way through!”
While I was at school, I depended on them for meals once a week to save some of my time for work. During COVID, they’ve begun cooking twice weekly. Ekadasis are the responsibility of Vraja Kishor, 18, with mashed potatoes, broccoli, tomato carrot soup, and sabudana khichadi. Nitai, 16, has mastered stuffed shells and tacos.
Vraja Kishor, 18, and Nitai, 16, cook for Krishna
During COVID, we could explore even more gourmet recipes together: ravioli, spinach filo, apple strudel, banana bread, dhokla-chutney and more. Sometimes things screw up, too much salt, over-cooked, under-cooked and just total flops. We laugh it off, try again and learn from our mistakes. All the food items get offered to our home Deities, Gaura Nitai who have been probably really curious about what They're going to get next! COVID has provided us a chance to serve Srimati Radharani as a family through cooking together as a family. - Gopi Gita Schomaker
4. Playing Krishna Conscious Board Games
Mom Gandhari Zepetello has created a series of Krishna conscious board games including Krsna Bingo, with 25 beautiful color pictures (children can also act out the pictures by playing charades before they make a match), and Krsna Memory, which helps younger kids practice remembering and making pairs with 18 laminated pairs of cards. There’s also a Vedic Knowledge Pursuit board game.
“All children love to play games,” she says. “My daughter loves to play computer games and I wanted to find a way to teach her more about Krishna and His pastimes. By creating Krishna bingo and Krsna Memory this gave me an opportunity to teach about some of the great personalities in the Vedas and scriptures. We discussed the stories and she learned the names of many personalities she was unfamiliar with. By playing these games we were able to have fun while learning more about Krsna and His pastimes.”
For more information join the Facebook group Krsna Conscious Games: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2680192345599728/?source_id=108620507593808
Gandhari Zepetello's Krsna Memory Cards
5. Doing Kirtan and Dancing for the Lord
We started doing the evening Gaura arti regularly with our kids aged 9, 6, 3, and 1 a year-and-half ago. At first it was difficult to get everyone together. But eventually they understood the routine and have begun to really enjoy it. Singing and dancing together is very powerful. The energy changes and immediately uplifts the spirit. During the lockdown, the family kirtan time and arti has been something that’s really helped us come together to regroup, to calm and rejuvenate our spirits. It has been a lifeline and invaluable source of connection with Krishna. They take turns with offering the arti items, playing the mrdanga or leading the kirtan and dancing with wild abandon. It’s always chaotic. Sometimes there’s more crying than laughter. But the habit of singing for the Lord together, however imperfect, is now a valuable coping tool. I have seen our life transform dramatically due to one simple activity that we do together. It has truly helped us get through the lockdown in one piece! -Kishori Jani
6. Singing Krishna Conscious Songs
One of my favorite ways to remember Krishna is to memorize songs with my three children Bhima, age 11; Chintamani, age 8 and Harinam, age 4. I like to memorize English and Sanskrit or Bengali songs, although the latter can be more challenging. First I make sure I have the song memorized myself. I print out or write the lyrics to the song and clip it next to the sink so I can look at it while I do the dishes. Sometimes I keep it in a note app on my phone so I can whip it out wherever I am.
Then I sing the songs to myself to get the kids interested. I teach them line by line by repeating each line three times in call and response. When they have the first line comfortably, we’ll move to the next. I try not to correct too much – they’ll correct themselves if I keep singing with them. One of my favorites is “Surabhi cow, surabhi cow / Have you milk for Krishna? Yes devotee, yes devotee / As much as you wish for. Churn it into butter / Make it into cheese / Offer it to Krishna / And eat some if you please!” sung to the tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep. - Nila Madhava Hargreaves
Ananda Monet and her daughter Anjali, 9, on their YouTube channel Kids Kirtan Club
7. Watching Krishna Conscious Videos
My three kids are Bhilu (6), Adideva (4), and Shalini (2) in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Their teacher at Goloka Community School shared Vrinda Kishori’s videos with them. Vrinda Kishori is real, entertaining, genuine and uses video editing for dramatic audio and visual effects. She narrates and acts out various pastimes of Lord Krishna and other personalities. As a mom, she even rivets my attention. My kids are spellbound and mesmerized by her. They always leave off happy watching her videos. Vrinda Kishori is pure goodness, light, and love. My kids will even do the dramatic movements that Vrinda Kishori does when she is acting out the stories. They remember the stories and talk about them later.
Watch Vrinda Kishori’s story videos here: https://www.youtube.com/c/VrindaKishoriStories/videos
8. Making Youtube Videos for Other Kids
During the quarantine period a lot of parents needed ways to entertain their children. I was already doing a lot of online kirtans, but Anjali, our 9-year-old daughter, wanted to provide something more for kids. Together we put together a YouTube channel, Kids Kirtan Club and did a series called Kids Kirtan Fun with Ananda and Anjali. The specific focus was music, stories, and dance. Together we did 12 episodes and it was a great way to have Anjali engaged in thinking about how to give spiritually during a difficult period. - Ananda Monet
Watch Ananda and Anjali’s videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuhMTFRsRyXDuT2UvlMZIFw
9. Gardening and Offering the Results to Krishna
Since the lockdown began I have finally gotten around to starting my little garden and my 2-year-old son, Gaurachandra has been helping me plant the seeds and harvest the vegetables. I have been teaching him about offering food to Krishna and how it becomes prasadam after that. When I make offerings I encourage him to join in with me ringing the bell or chanting Hare Krishna at the end. Now he often picks tomatoes from the garden and says he wants to go wash them and offer them. We have also been growing many flowers so I have been teaching him how to make garlands. He loves to do this (with my help) on all the festival days and it’s also a great activity for his fine motor skills. He feels so happy when he sees his garland on the altar. Also, we are learning some verses during lunch time or during our bedtime routine and he is doing pretty well memorising them – he feels most enthusiastic to learn a verse if I snort like a pig at the end of each one! (typically boy behaviour) – Tulasi Nadia Sutaria
Tulasi with Gaurachandra, 2, picking flowers for Krishna in their garden
10. Good Old-Fashioned Japa
One Krishna conscious activity that we have been doing with our three kids (16, 13, and 7 years old) has been good old-fashioned Japa. Immediately after showering in the morning the entire family (5 of us) go outside and and walk in nature and chant Japa for half an hour. We have been doing this since the beginning of the pandemic and it has been super nice for all of us. There has never been any resistance to doing it from any of the kids, and it has been a beautiful way for all of us to start our days together. – Ragunath Zaldivar
11. Adding Krishna to All Your Daily Activities
What I am doing with my children keeps Krishna in our everyday life and keeps Krishna conscious education fresh for them. I have my 10-year-old son offer all the meals. I read at least one Krishna conscious story to my 2 1/2-year-old daughter every day. My son listens to a Krishna conscious story on YouTube every day before he goes to sleep. I sing a lot of Krishna conscious children’s songs with actions – that way they learn the songs in the pastimes. I include my children in cleaning the altar and picking flowers outside to put on the altar when we can. I also have my daughter take care of Tulsi with me. I have a YouTube channel, and we have been enjoying making a video for each festival. – Anapayini Jakupko
Watch Anapayini’s “Sri and Me” videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa3q5zA_Qhy-fcIZnok7-qg
Anapayini with her children Srinath, 10, and Sridevi, 2
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