for ISKCON News on June 20, 2013
"The water of the swimming pool was so clear, sweet and cooling that it took a lot of coaxing and cajoling the get the children out of the pool and ready for lunch prasadam."
The children of the Gopal’s Fun School in Hiranandani Estate, Thane, went for a fun-filled picnic to Govardhan Eco Village (“GEV”). The Gopal’s Fun School is a weekend class conducted under the auspices of ISKCON where children between the age of 3 years to 12 years are trained in character building, personality development, ethical and spiritual values, mantra meditation, story-telling, devotional music and Sanskrit Shloka recitation through the medium of fun and games.
The Gopal’s Fun School serves as an introduction to Krishna-consciousness for the children in various local areas in Mumbai and Thane. In order to give the children a glimpse into Vedic lifestyle and culture, they were taken to GEV which is a farm community spread over a scenic landscape of 60 acres at Wada situated 110 kilometers away from Mumbai, India. Epitomising Srila Prabhupada’s vision of simple living and high thinking, the GEV is blending sustainable community living with spirituality and bhakti yoga.
GEV is an initiative of ISCKON, Chowpatty under the leadership of Radhanath Swami. Since its inception in the year 2003, GEV has become a model for organic farming, cow protection, rural development, construction of environmental friendly structures and alternative energy.
The excited children began the picnic with an orientation about the various activities that they would be participating in at GEV followed by sumptuous breakfast prasadam. The children were first taken on a tour of the beautiful and large nursery where they were shown a variety of plants. The children were amazed to see the beautiful flowers including the lotuses, marigolds and roses and excitedly took pictures to show their friends back home.
The children then happily proceeded to the adventure sports enclave where they were given an opportunity to play games like rope climbing, tug of war and other traditional Indian games which till date they had only heard about in the stories of Krsna and Balaram. After several hours of playing, the children were then taken on a walking tour around the vast expanse of GEV where the large mangoes hanging down from the trees proved to be an irresistible temptation for the children as well as the parents accompanying them.
Next on the agenda was a swim in the cool waters of the in-house swimming pool. The water of the swimming pool was so clear, sweet and cooling that it took a lot of coaxing and cajoling the get the children out of the pool and ready for lunch prasadam. A good swim always increases one’s appetite and needless to say the children couldn’t get enough of the delicious lunch prasadam which was served with cooling buttermilk made from the milk of the cows in the GEV goshala. In fact all the vegetables and grains used to cook the prasadam were also grown organically at GEV. Needless to say the taste of the prasadam was divine!
Lunch was followed by a much-needed rest at the beautiful cottages at GEV where the children happily dozed off on mats on the floor. Next on the agenda was a visit to the goshala where it was feeding time for the cows. The children were absolutely joyous to see the cows and the calves and thoroughly enjoyed feeding them with their own hands! The children gave whoops of joy when the calves licked their hands affectionately.
The children were also given a short class on Vedic cooking. The children then proceeded to the temple at GEV where a beautiful kirtan was in progress before the beautiful and serenely smiling deities of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai. The children lovingly participated in the kirtan. Then they visited the cow products store where they were shown various cow products and given information about their medicinal properties.
By this time the sun had set and our wonderful summer picnic had come to an end and it was time to go back home. The children and their parents took back beautiful and loving memories along with the bags full of mangoes that we were given by the devotees at GEV.