ISKCON County Fermanagh
Welcome To Krishna Island - Govindadwipa Dhama
Number of residents: 7, Number of guests:100 a week, during the summer. Indeed, today the island—now called Govindadwipa, or “island of Govinda”—draws many visitors and tourists with its regular varied retreats, which provide financial support as well as giving newcomers an introduction to Krishna conscious philosophy and lifestyle.
This summer’s schedule is a packed one: After Pauline Sawyer’s Yoga Teacher Training, after devotees will host a “Mind, Body and Spirit 5-day Adventure. As well as hiking and exploring in local natural and historical sites, visitors will do yoga every morning, learn Indian vegetarian cooking, participate in kirtans and discuss eastern philosophy with a resident monk.
We are joined by Hare Krishna followers on the ferry to Irish Rath Island, where the Hare Krishna Centre was established in 1985. From the quay side, age old trees and foliage give no clue to the peaceful island settlement hidden from view. Upon arrival, one is surprised to discover an impressive Victorian mansion, built in 1854 by Cavendish Butler. At the height of The Troubles, in 1982, property prices slumped in this border area. A group of Hare Krishna monks, led by a German follower, Prithu Das, pooled their resources and took out a bank loan to buy Inish Rath, a perfect setting for a Hare Krishna centre.
The Hare Krishna temple was established in the west wing of the house with a magnificent golden altar at one end of the long room and a life size representation of Swami Prabhupada at the other. Oriental arches frame the windows and polished pine floors add to the overall feeling of light and space. A powerful scent of incense envelopes us as we enter the temple. A lone Indian devotee sits cross-legged on the floor, playing oriental cadences on a violin, which he holds in an unusual position against his chest, rather than his chin.
The Bhajana band provide the music as the temple President leads the service, which begins with repeated chanting of Lord Krishna`s name. The leader himself plays the accordion, while his son beats the mrdanga drum. Another devotee sits at the harmonium, the small bellow powered keyboard which the British took to Indiainstead of the organ. Other members play kartala cymbals and flutes. As the chanting gains momentum, devotees get to their feet, dancing to a trance inducing rhythm.
A sari-clad female stands in the inner sanctum beyond the wrought iron altar gates making offerings of fire, water, incense, and flowers to the twin forms of Krishna, who has a black face, and his other half, the female Radha. As part of the purifying ritual, a server then passes the fire around in an amphor, so that each Hare Krishna follower can receive the purifying flame. Purified water is also poured over their heads. The resident monks who tend the temple wear saffron robes, a sign that they are unmarried.
The Sunday worship ends in the dining room with a magnificent Krishna Feast, a wholesome array of vegetarian dishes including subji, curry, dahl, pakora, rice, chapatis, samosas, halva and sweet rice cooked by the weekend cookery class.
Websites: http://www.krishnaisland.com and www.lakeisleretreats.com Video gallery >>