On Sunday we went to the Hare Krishna temple Bhaktivedanta Manor just outside Watford for the annual letting out of the cows. This is the day that the cows are let out of their winter lodgings into the spring sunshine and the fresh grass. The Manor is the biggest centre for the study of Krishna consciousness in the UK. I can already hear some of you wondering why we would go to this. Well, I believe that if we all understood more about each others beliefs, customs, and ways of life then the world would be a much better place. So, we went to find out more about the cows and share in this ceremony. As you can see from the two photos below, we got up close and personal with some cows before they were let out.
Before the event started properly, I took these photos of one of the oxen who had be dressed up for the occasion – he’s very big but very gentle. On some days you can go to the temple and go in a cart pulled by the oxen.
The area all around the farm buildings had been decorated with coloured chalks on the ground and then sprinkled with glitter – they’re beautiful designs and made the place look really pretty.
There were lots of people there to see the letting out of the cows, and we soon heard the distant sound of music and singing, and then the procession came from the Manor with the Lordships leading the way. When they made it to the cowsheds they did a ceremony that involved lots of singing, blessings – we had water thrown over us, smoke wafted past us, and given a hyacinth flower. When this part was over there was a talk about why the cow is so important to the Hare Krisha’s which I found really interesting – the best bit was when he suggested we start a cow revolution and that we were all cow fundamentalists, being there to show our love for the cows. (did I mention that we took two bags of carrots for the cows).
Finally, the cows got their freedom – it was so lovely seeing them jump, skip, and run around the field – the bulls started fighting to assert their dominance over each other. We then all moved to another field to see the cows let out – the brown one further down just wanted to fight with everyone before she took off around the field.
The calves were the funniest, as they have never been outside, and when the gate was opened they just ran around and around the edge of their little area for ages – it was like they were in an Olympic race – so cute, but very difficult to get a photo of.
Once most of the visitors had wandered off I managed to get a picture of the alter (I’m not sure if that’s the right terminology) with the flowers and another beautiful chalk drawing on the ground in front of it.
It was a really nice way to spend a Sunday morning – and you’ve never seen so many people in one place smiling and laughing because of the antics of some cows.
So until next time, stay safe, be happy, and smile at the next person you see – it just might make their day.
Pamela & Ken
Final photo is of a Buddha in the Manor gardens.