Krishna Consciousness, or the Hare Krishna movement, is often light-heartedly called the ‘kitchen religion’ because food is such a central part of our philosophy and spiritual practice. The founder of the Hare Krishna movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, started the ‘love feast’ tradition in the early 1960s, when he started the Hare Krishna movement in America. Vegetarian food being alien and unknown to most, one of the Swami’s first activities was to teach his students how to prepare vegetarian foodstuffs. On Sunday afternoon or evening, you would find guests thronging the Hare Krishna centres to discuss philosophy, meditate, and enjoy a delicious feast. Within a couple years the Hare Krishna ‘Love Feasts’ had become famous.
What exactly are the ‘love feasts’?
It would be unjust to just call the ‘love feast’ just another ‘feast’. It is a festival held by Hare Krishna centres around the world on one day of the weekend. A sumptuous vegetarian feast is preceded by soulful music, a small talk on spirituality based on the ancient scripture of the Bhagavad Gita, and lots of dancing and chanting of sacred spiritual mantras, specifically the ‘Hare Krishna’ mantra. The whole atmosphere of the temple is surcharged with energy and enthusiasm and buzzing with guests, some new and some old timers. It is an opportunity to meet others spiritual seekers or just absorb the atmosphere in solitude.
Why do we have the love feast?
An important part of the bhakti tradition is gratitude and sharing. In gratitude to the Supreme Lord, Krishna, we cook and offer different delicacies to Him. Although the Supreme Creator does not need anything, He appreciates our offering of love, just as a father who is self-sufficient cherishes any small gift given by the son. We then invite everyone to share the emotion of love and gratitude by freely distributing these gourmet preparations to one and all!
What is on the menu?
‘You are what you eat’ —for those of us conscious of our diet and health, analysing our meals and coming up with new combinations of our favourite foods is a passion and a hobby! The Hare Krishna feasts are made with combinations of vegetables, grains, fruits, milk, nuts, water and sweeteners. We strictly avoid meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, tea, caffeine, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. We do this in line with Ayurvedic guidelines for good health and to keep the consciousness elevated. Our effort is to avoid subtle negative energies and focus on spirituality over hedonistic materialism! Your feast plate will be full of rice, curries, fried savouries, several different types of vegetables, poppadoms, and of course the world famous Hare Krishna dessert – Halava!
Who are the cooks?
Ancient scriptures advise that the energy, or consciousness of the cook, enters the food and eventually affects those who eat the meal. The meals at the Hare Krishna Love Feasts are prepared by volunteers who are practicing the path of bhakti-yoga. Cooking is not done for commercial gain, in anger or frustration. Instead, meals are cooked with a single aim – to please the Supreme Lord. The highest standards of cleanliness are maintained and the best ingredients are used for cooking. There is no cost-cutting or using old or stale food as profit is not part of the cooking process at all! Therefore, these meals enable one to advance steadily in life, to purify the body, and to create fine brain tissues, which will lead to clear thinking.
You are invited to our free weekend love feasts!
Here in Melbourne, we have two Love feasts, one on a Saturday and the other on a Sunday. If you are thinking of an interesting, or perhaps an adventurous outing, do join us for an enjoyable weekend evening. Our Albert Park temple offers free weekend meals to anyone who would like to join us. Sumptuous preparations, festive atmosphere and the soulful music – you will definitely have a great time!