Mississippi, USA – ISKCON’s New Talavan farm recently mourned the loss of one of their oldest friends, the bull Bala. Srila Prabhupada visited the 1300 acre farm once in 1975, inspiring the devotees there to take up cow protection. Since then, the community has acquired over 100 cattle, and its always hard to see one of them go.
New resident Hari Dasa, who moved to New Talavana with his family in August 2007, says Bala was the most unique bull he’d ever met. “The first time I approached him, to feed him left-over food and vegetable peels, I was a little afraid of his huge horns and powerful presence,” he says. “Instinctively, I folded my hands and bowed to him – and to my surprise, he lowered his own head in return! I could have sworn he was acknowledging me in his own graceful, noble way. And sure enough, he let me get close to him after that.”
So when the stately bull passed away a few weeks after this encounter, Hari Dasa and the rest of New Talavan decided they must hold a festival in his honor. But why not honor all of the community’s cows and bulls? It was time, they decided, for New Talavan’s first Cow Mela.
“We chose November 10 as the official date to coincide with Govardhan Puja,” Hari Dasa says. “The community was just bustling! We planned and rehearsed entertainment, created a Govardhana hill fashioned from halava, and made all the cow-themed items we could think of: t-shirts, posters, buttons, dioramas…..”
When the big day came, it was packed with activity. Special guest Purushatraya Swami treated all to an audio-visual presentation of his self-sufficient farm project in Brazil. Temporary huts were erected to house activities as diverse as hand-painting cows, cooking chapattis using cow dung fuel, and making yoghurt, curd burgers, and milk shake from fresh cow milk.
As evening descended, the crowd flocked to the stage for Dasarath Suta Dasa’s devotional music performance featuring a wide variety of Indian and Western instruments. This was followed by a traditional Indian dance and a drama performed by Gurukula children. Cow-themed accessories and chunks of the delicious Govardhana Hill were then auctioned off to raise funds for the local school, and the event was capped off in grand style with traditional bhajans in the glow of a bonfire.
The event was a success, with over 300 people attending. “We feel that Krishna has blessed us for taking care of His favorite animal,” Hari Dasa says. “We hope you feel the same way, and join us in celebrating our second Cow Mela next year.”
There is a video on this event here.
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies