About 100 people, including local devotees, parents and family they had invited, and members of the Indian community attended this year’s Thanksgiving program at ISKCON’s New Goloka Dham in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
Some North Carolina devotees attended the Rathayatra festival that is part of the Charlotte Thanksgiving Parade, the largest such parade in the Southeast USA. Those that did not came to the Hillsborough event instead, which has been a tradition for the past decade.
The program began with a four-hour kirtan from 10am to 2pm, led by different local devotees.
“Many of the leaders were our youth, who are really fired up,” says temple president Lila Shakti Dasi. “Everybody was really blissed out, and didn’t want the kirtan to end.”
New Goloka Dham in Hillborough, North Carolina
Afterwards, devotees and guests tucked into a delicious spread prepared by expert Southern cooks Jagad Guru Das and Damodara Priya Dasi.
The prasad included mashed potatoes, gravy, barbecued baked tofu, homemade cranberry sauce, buttery corn and green beans, steamed vegetables, salad, bread rolls, cornbread, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and a heavenly pecan pie that legend has it people are still talking about.
The feast was particularly exciting for the Indian congregation, for whom such Southern dishes are a novelty, and who look forward to Thanksgiving at the temple every year.
Thanksgiving Day prasadam, cooked by Jagad Guru Das and Damodara Priya Dasi
The entire feast was also one hundred per cent vegan, although according to Lila Shakti it was so good and rich that people could not tell the difference. Although New Goloka Dham is not always completely vegan, they try to stay away from milk unless it is ahimsa milk derived from the local Flutesong farm, run by Amritanama Das and Jalangi Dasi.
Another element that made this year’s Thanskgiving the best yet for Hillsborough devotees was the newly reconstructed 3,000 sq ft Prabhupada Hall where they took prasadam.
“Previously our prasadam hall was an open picnic pavilion,” Lila Shakti says. “In the winter, we had to put up heavy plastic sidewalls and use a barn heater. It was very austere. This year, we renovated and enclosed the pavilion, to create a huge heated hall where we could sit comfortably indoors and eat prasadam. It was a Thanksgiving dream come true!”
Sri-Sri Radha Golokananda, the presiding Deities of New Goloka Dham, North Carolina
Going forward, Prabhupada Hall will also be used for community events, kirtan gatherings, outreach and more.
During and after the feast, devotees expressed their gratitude for Vaishnava association, Srila Prabhupada and Krishna consciousness.
“We should have an attitude of gratitude for whatever we have, and for each other, too,” says Lila Shakti. “I, for one, am thankful to be in Prabhupada’s service, and to be in the company of so many nice Vaishnavas. And we should express that to each other – don’t wait until someone leaves their body to appreciate them.”[ hillsborough ] [ thanksgiving ]