In the splendid Tuscan settings of Villa Vrindavana ISKCON (where the ” Goshala Balarama ” Cow Protection Sanctuary is located), an initiative dedicated to children aged between 3 and 9 was started.
”Om” Giardino in Natura is a family-oriented project of devotees designed to help children to grow in harmony with themselves and with the surrounding world through interacting with nature.
The project aims to enhance temple activities by sensitizing children to the world of nature and animals. In this way, they can fully experience the energy at Villa Vrindavana. Thus Vaisnava culture is made accessible to anyone allowing them to approach the culture in the way that they are most comfortable with.
Most activities are outdoors, in the woods and the Temple’s garden, based on Yoga for children, on playing (utilizing natural materials), and on theatrical representations whose themes can approach Bhakti Yoga.
The activities are structured to facilitate key moments that stimulate the children’s attention allowing them to ask questions and gradually bring them closer to Krishna. Some of these activities are treasure hunts in the garden that with clues in places like the Sacred Art Museum, with paintings representing the Mahabharata epic; yoga excursions where stories from Vaishnava culture are told; theatrical representation based on spiritually relevant topics. During Kartika, the end of the experience the children will be invited to the temple to light a candle and express a desire they have in their hearts.
…. ” We consider nature, animals, and the environment of Villa Vrindavana to be crucial elements for a healthy, harmonious development of the person, especially children.
The benefits range from psychomotor development (gradually reaching the perfect balance through climbing, jumping from one trunk to another, etc.), to social development (the child learns the spirit of collaboration together with his companions helping each other in many situations or dynamics i.e. when they have to cross a stream or have to pick up a heavy stick to play), cognitive development (children’s level of concentration and creativity is improved through exploring and listening to the noises from nature), and spiritual development through learning the art of living through valid models present at the Temple“.
The mission of the project is to encourage more people to become sensitive towards creation, creatures, and the Creator. Children and parents have the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with nature and reality, a connection that has been lost in today’s digital world.
They learn about the cycle of life and renewal through observing the changes in nature, such as trees losing leaves in autumn and regrowing in spring, blooming of flowers with vibrant colors and scents, discovering the diverse world of insects, how a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly, observe cows grazing and donating their milk, admire the birds that build the nest to accommodate the hatchlings, see how the parents accompany them in their growth from the hatching of the eggs to the first flight.
Om Giardino in Natura project believes in experiencing moments full of meaning, helping children to become better adults, able to love and safeguard nature, woods, and their inhabitants, which means all of Creation, so that future generations can have a more respectful and loving relationship with the Earth (a place of passage).
Jan 23, 2022
Anandini Tikunov (8th-grade student)
Jan 22, 2022
Sunanda Das, tovp.org