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A young celebration

On the eve of Janmashtami, meet these young men who say chanting is ‘cool’.

entertainment Updated: Sep 01, 2010 01:34 IST
Rahul Sabharwal

You could well bump into them at any of the Capital’s many pubs. But you won’t. Instead, you’ll find them earnestly preparing for the festival of Janmashtami tomorrow. These are the five guys we met at the Iskcon temple in East of Kailash. All are in their 20s and all dedicated to God’s mission.

“I really used to be into rock music… obsessed with heavy metal bands such as Metallica and Opeth,” says Natvara Krishna Das (that’s the name he, like his friends, has adopted at the temple), 22, and an engineering graduate. “But the Hare Krishna chanting is a different high. Dancing at the pub is nothing compared to dancing while we chant here.”

It seems a tad bizarre at first, but these guys are convinced of the path they’ve chosen. “You see someone with their head shaved and wearing a dhotikurta and you think fanaticism. But we’re working to spread peace and happiness. We even go to campuses such as JNU and DCE to spread ‘Krishna consciousness’.” Natvara adds.

His fellow ‘celibate’, who goes by the name of Krishna Sudama and is a qualified graphics designer, says he misses nothing from the time before he joined the temple. “Whatever you find outside, you can find inside, but in a civilised manner. We go out to malls and markets, but only to invite youngsters to enroll with us,” he says. Krishna, who’s been living at the temple for more than two years, says he visits his parents occasionally.

Predictably, moderation is the key here. Juices and milk are apt substitutes for alcohol. Dancing, as you praise the lord, is enough to burn off calories. As for Facebook or Orkut, there’s simply no time! “Our day starts at 3.30 am. There’s plenty to do the entire day,” says Sundar Gopal Das, 27, a gold medallist from IIT Delhi. “There’s such madness over money these days,” he continues. “But you can’t be happy with just that, you know.”

The other two guys - Prateek Pandey, 22, Yudhistir , 20 - have been silent so far. The latter, unlike the others, doesn’t live in the temple and is pursuing a course in mass communication. “My classmates were surprised to learn about this at first, but I’ve encouraged some of them to follow suit.”

By this time, they all seem keen to return to their chores. After all, it’s Janmashtami tomorrow, and managing the 5-6 lakh people who converge at the temple is no easy task.