ISKCON New Vrindaban is set to offer a Covid-safe Mother’s Day Wellness Retreat for Vaishnavis and their families with an aim to provide nourishment, relaxation and inspiration for women during difficult times.
“During the pandemic, people have sacrificed their sanga, and in some ways their mental health through isolation,” says Palace Lodge Manager Sarah. “So although we can’t do something on the scale of Festival of Inspiration [which was typically held over the Mother’s Day weekend], we still recognize that people want to reconnect. So we want to honor that need, and recognize and honor the women in our life, including the higest woman in our life – Srimati Radharani.”
To uphold Covid guidelines and ensure safety, a reduced number of guests will be accommodated at the Palace Lodge on the ISKCON New Vrindaban property for the retreat, which will run from Friday May 7th to Sunday May 9th (Mother’s Day in the United States).
Precautions will be taken throughout the event to make sure it’s safe. Cleaning staff will use the most recent protocols for disinfecting, masks and social distancing will be required, and a limited number of people allowed at once in the temple room.
“Where possible, we’ll do activities and serve prasadam outside – it’s such a large community and grounds that it’s very easy to maintain social distancing,” Sarah says. Activities such as kirtan and yoga will also be held socially distanced and with participants wearing masks.
The pace is unhurried and the peace palpable in the remote country setting of New Vrindaban, which at 2,200 acres – the core ISKCON New Vrindaban area alone covers 525 acres – is like a spiritual state park. Assisting the peace of mind for Vaishnavis will be the assurance that their children will also be engaged at the Kids’ Camp, and husbands will have their own program, serving the Vaishnavis and the divine mother Srimati Radharani.
The retreat will begin with an opening circle and kirtan, followed by dinner prasadam, on Friday evening. On Saturday, Vaishnavis will attend the morning program, including chanting japa with many Tulasi Devi plants. There will also be an 8:00am class by senior Srila Prabhupada disciple Malati Devi Dasi, focusing on the unique relationship between Prabhupada and his daughters, and the love he showed them.
Throughout the day there will be special Vaishnavi sangas, and activities including restorative yoga, relaxing Covid-safe spa treatment, turban making for the Deities, and a sweet-making class with a guest sweet-maker demonstrating how to prepare “the fluffiest rasgullas you can imagine.” Participants will go on a hike to Old Vrindaban, where Srila Prabhupada spent 32 days in May to June 1969. There will also be a class on mental health, Gaura Arati, and a yoga nidra class to relax before bedtime.
On Sunday morning at 8:00am, concluding the morning program, a panel of senior women disciples of Srila Prabhupada will tell their stories and discuss their relationships with Srila Prabhupada.
At 9:00am, there will be a closing circle with participants sharing reflections. And at 10:30am, fathers and husbands will serve a special Mother’s Day brunch, with the retreat wrapping up by around midday so that families have time to drive home.
During the retreat, on Saturday afternoon while their mothers are engaged in activities, children will be kept busy in a Kids’ Camp, doing fun Krishna conscious arts and crafts with Tulasi Manjari Devi Dasi.
Meanwhile, husbands and fathers will also have their own program during the retreat, including service around New Vrindaban and to our Divine Mother Srimati Radharani.
“Through the different supportive activities and sangas, we want to strengthen and nourish the women who come, and give their families space to be engaged in their own activities so that the women can focus on themselves,” says Sarah. “We also want to facilitate families to serve and honor the women in their lives.”
Sarah quotes the sign Srila Prabhupada once posted for his disciple Jadurani Dasi to remind her to care for her health: “Health is number one, chanting is number two, service is number three and then comes reading.”
“We want all the women who participate in the retreat to leave feeling like their health and sadhana have been nourished and their service inspired,” she says. “And we want that for the children, fathers and husbands as well, so that this is a full family experience of health, sadhana and seva.”
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