On Saturday, October 8, 2022, ISKCON Philadelphia and our Philadelphia Vaishnavas C.A.R.E. Team presented our 1st Annual Holistic Health Fair in order to welcome our neighbors to the temple for an afternoon of friendship, educational activities, healthcare assessments, and an introduction to Krsna consciousness. After days of stormy rain and cold winds from Hurricane Ian, by Krsna’s Grace, we had a perfect sunny day with clear skies and ideal temperatures for the Fair. Two weeks prior, we delivered 250 hand-written invitations throughout the local neighborhood and advertised on several online event websites, reaching many more adjoining areas.
The decorated “Fairgrounds” on the temple property consisted of 14 pandals/booths which included, medical healthcare with two of our congregational physicians, Vaishnavi RNs, dental health with our devotee dentist, spiritual care teaching Mantra Meditation and japa with each participant receiving japa beads and a copy of “Chant and Be Happy,” Ayurvedic healthcare, Crystal Therapy and Aromatherapy as taught by one of our devotee M.D.’s, Beginner’s Hatha yoga for Adults and Children, and a Children’s Arts & Crafts Center. We had many large helium balloons for the children. Adults and children alike accompanied our Vaishnava teenagers who led kirtan in the center of the Holistic Health Fair.
In addition, we had a Cooking Demonstration allowing our guests to prepare, cook, and taste their freshly offered samosas. They were each given a copy of the “Higher Taste” cookbook as well as a free copy of the “Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
We distributed delicious Vegan lunch prasadam, snacks, and healthy drinks. Several of our guests were Vegan and were very happy to see our Vegan Lunch Menu consisting of:
— Chinese Lo Mein Noodles with Veggies and sautéed Tofu Strips
— Vegetable Samosas served with Tamarind Chutney
— Fresh Veggie Salad with Olive Oil
— Oatmeal dessert cookies with blueberry or raspberry filling
Several of our guests expressed their appreciation for the biodegradable plates, containers, cups, bamboo forks, and chopsticks.
Almost all of our neighbors were excited about taking a guided tour inside the temple building, beginning with a tour of our “Prabhupada Museum” in the lobby of our new temple portraying Srila Prabhupada’s life and mission with large paintings/photographs professionally matted and framed with typed narrations behind glass. Our tour guide, Aravindaksa Dasa, first explained each picture so they gained an appreciation for Srila Prabhupada’s arduous journey to America on a steamship at the advanced age of 70 years old. Many expressed their empathy for Srila Prabhupada having had two heart attacks on board with prolonged seasickness due to 15-foot waves. Guests were truly moved by Srila Prabhupada’s difficult voyage and the austerities he faced when he lived in the Bowery district of New York City, not knowing anyone and having practically no money. Our neighbors were then taken into the temple room to see the Deity of Srila Prabhupada seated on the Vyasasana and the Deities on the altar. Most exited the tour saying how “beautiful” the temple is and how impressed they were by our tour guide’s knowledge and explanations of the Krsna consciousness philosophy.
At our “Welcome Booth,” they were each given a Welcome bag and a “Map” of the 14 Pandals/Booths with a brief description of the activities at each Booth and the 26 Free Giveaways for Adults and Children. Most neighbors simply strolled the temple grounds going from one Booth to another, making friends with the devotees, and enjoying the pleasant afternoon.
Some of the comments made by our neighbors were:
“I have been living across the street for almost 50 years looking at this temple every day from my window. I never felt welcome to come over so I’ve never set foot on this property until today. Now, my wife and I feel so welcomed by all of you. We cannot thank you enough!! We will definitely be back very soon.” –John and Patricia
“I’ve lived around the corner for 45 years and never came here. I want to thank you for what you did here today. This is exactly what this neighborhood needed! Thank you so much. We are all having such a nice day. This couldn’t be better!! Thank you!! For sure, I will be back very soon.” — Lynne
ISKCON Philadelphia’s Temple President, Dronacarya dasa, and our Vaishnavas CARE—Philadelphia Team plan on organizing this Holistic Health Fair every year. We have no doubt that by Lord Jagannatha and Srila Prabhupada’s Mercy this Fair will become a much-anticipated event in Philadelphia at the beginning of every October.
In conclusion, the next day after the Fair, one of the women who attended Saturday’s Health Fair attended our Sunday feast program and another couple enrolled in our Vaishnavas CARE Online Distance Learning Course at www.vaishnavascare.org so they can join our Philadelphia Vaishnavas CARE Team to serve the sick and terminally ill members of our congregation. Thank you to all of our Volunteers, with a special thanks to Vamanadeva dasa, Dronacarya dasa, and Vaishnavas CARE Team Leader in Philadelphia, Sita devi dasi, for all they did. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this Holistic Health Fair a great success!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada and his beloved devotees.
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