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Year 11 trip to Bhaktivedanta Manor

Article written by Priyanshi Agarwal, Aparajita Gupta and Arundhati Gupta 

From feeding the happiest cows on the planet to experiencing the divinity of Hindu worship: this has been one of the best trips our school's been on.

On Thursday 18th November 2021, Yr 11 students took part in a visit to Bhaktivedanta Manor, a Hindu temple dedicated to ISKON (the Internantional Society for Krishna Consciousness).

After being greeted with a warm welcome, we started off the day with an insightful presentation on the basic principles on Hinduism. We explored concepts such as Karma, Reincarnation, Moksha, Purpose, and how different Hindus perceive God. Afterwards, we were then blessed with the opportunity to take part in/observe an Aarti, which is a religious ritual of worship. Amazingly, when we all came out of the shrine, everyone was strangely quiet: absorbed in their thoughts and engulfed with a sense of peace.

Then came many people's favourite part of the day - lunch! We were served with homemade vegetarian curries, which was a real treat! Next, we were given a tour of the site. We explored the beautiful gardens dedicated to the one and only George Harrison, member of the beatles, who kindly donated the manor to ISKON.

Next stop, was meeting the stars of the trip: the happy cows! We were treated like royalty in a regal ride on a bullcart, pulled by 2 gentlemen oxens - Balaram and Bharat! We also fed carrots and lettuce to the female cows. In Hinduism, the male oxens are seen as 'fathers', who enjoy working in the fields and the female cows are seen as the 'mothers'. They are treated with such a caring manner - they're hand-milked, dressed up and adorned during festivals, and kept in a clean and pleasant environment. They really reflected to us the ethos of Hinduism.

Lastly, we all attempted to dress up in traditional Hindu saris, which was a lot of fun!

As a whole, the temple felt like it was washed by an aura of serenity and mindfulness. We thoroughly enjoyed its stillness and serenity, allowing us to disconnect ourselves from the outer world. It was certainly a welcome break before our mock exams!

Finally, as Hindus ourselves who often feel detached from the curriculum and the knowledge of our peers, this trip really meant a lot to us. The feeling of finally sharing the culture we live and love to our teachers and peers? It was priceless.

Thank you to Mrs Steele, Mr Kuhn, the other teachers and all the Bhaktivedanta Manor staff for making this trip a truly memorable experience.