Balabhadra Dasa gives a class to the youth in the barn.
The Krishna Culture Festival Tour, a bus tour for ISKCON youth, travels around the US every summer, helping to set up Festival of India shows and putting on their own shows in theatres and college auditoriums.
This year they were in for a special treat, as they stopped in at ISCOWP (The International Society for Cow Protection) in New Vrindaban, West Virginia on June 30th.
Established by husband and wife team Balabhadra Dasa and Chayadevi Dasi in 1990, ISCOWP trains oxen to replace farm machinery, demonstrating an alternative to slaughter. Twenty-three cows and oxen receive lifetime protection on its 165-acre farm.
Balabhadra Dasa, president of ISCOWP and ISKCON Minister of Cow Protection and Agriculture, had planned to garden and build a bonfire with the youth. But torrential rain throughout the day forced a change of plan.
“Instead, we decided to transform the ISCOWP barn into an impromptu restaurant for lunch,” Balabhadra says. “Then I gave a talk about the ISCOWP project, which led to questions and a lot of in-depth discussion.”
The youth discussed cow protection, alternative oxpower, growing and preserving food, and the impact of current events on their personal lives.
Afterwards, ISKCON second generation devotees Radhanatha and Anapayini Jakupo said their visit to ISCOWP was “very inspiring and educating.”
Sarah Silberman commented, “I really enjoyed learning about living off the land the way ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada wanted.”
And Jahnavi Harrison, visiting from the UK’s Bhaktivedanta Manor, said, “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to see that projects like this are sustainable and can really work! I hope to visit again and learn much more about taking care of cows and organic gardening – maybe that I can put into practice at my home temple.”
“Fortunately,” Balabhadra says, “They all found it such an enriching experience that they didn’t even miss the bonfire!”