Submitted by Nityananda Chandra Das
Morning Edition, May 28, 2008 ¬∑ There’s not much traffic on First Avenue in lower Manhattan at 5:15 a.m. But in the building between a darkened tattoo shop and electronic store, a light shines bright from the second floor.
Inside is the New York City headquarters of the Interfaith League, a Hare Krishna group. A visitor is greeted with a blast of sights and sounds: Thirteen men and one woman are twirling and dancing, playing cymbals and drums and chanting Hindu tunes. Hare Krishna monks are in orange or white robes. Civilians are in business suits or jeans. They all face an altar adorned with flowers and statues of the supreme Hindu God, Krishna, and his female counterpart, Radha.
A little over an hour later, a 35-year-old monk named Gadadhara Pandit Dasa blows into a conch shell and pours a water offering. This marks the half-way point in this three-hour morning worship service, a daily celebration.
“I just can’t think of a better way to start the day,” he says, grinning. “It’s such a devotional activity, so deeply moving for the soul, that the rest of your day is much more clear, because you’ve nourished the mind and soul from the morning.”