By Radha Mohan Das
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an impromptu visit to Bhaktivedanta Manor last Sunday, when worshipers at the Manor were surprised to see an entourage of MPs, including the Home Secretary Priti Patel and numerous security share their Sunday worship. Priti Patel went to school in Watford and her family live in Hertfordshire.
The Prime Minister was taken through the £10 million Sri Krishna Haveli, a multi-purpose community facility, which is nearing completion. He was given a traditional welcome of Sanskrit mantra ceremony. Then, followed by a crowd of devotees, neighbors, local dignitaries and Hindu community representatives, the PM was led to the beautiful temple room inside the main mock-Tudor mansion building donated by the late Beatle George Harrison.
After receiving a ceremonial blessing in front of the famous shrine, he spoke to the congregation and guests of his respect for the Hindu community and its values.
“I am inspired by the work of this Temple and the community here. It is not only a place of great spirituality of course, it attracts hundreds of thousands of people and the Manor brings all sorts of people together. It is wonderful to see this Haveli, which is almost complete.” The PM then vowed to return to the Temple when the centre formally opens.
After the presentation of gifts and the Temple’s famous sweets, the PM fed oxen from the Temple farm. Feeding cows or oxen is an auspicious activity in Hindu culture, where all animals are deeply respected.
“Bhaktivedanta Manor is place of worship and spiritual education,” explained Vinay Tanna, Head of Communications at the Temple. “Therefore is not affiliated with any particular political party. However we respect and honour all who want to visit here, at any time.”
Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna temple, originally gifted to The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) by late Beatle George Harrison is housed in 78 acres of land outside Watford. It has become one of the most important sites of pilgrimage for European and British Hindus, and hosts the only seminary for priests in the UK.
The Manor includes a magnificent and famous shrine, monastic facilities, college course and retreats, and many cultural events.
A unique feature of their farm is its growing reliance on ox power and hand milking. Milk produced on a sustainable and humane farm is better for people and better for the cows. It provides for the needs of the cows for their whole natural lives.
Significantly, the new Sri Krishhna Haveli, a 2000m2 multi-purpose community facility on site, is nearing completion.