Hare Krishnas Popularize Indian Vegetarian Cuisine in Houston
HOUSTON: The Houston Hare Krishna Temple’s vegetarian food booth, named “Art of Indian” by the Bayou City Art Festival organizers, was featured this spring at the prestigious, bi-annual festival held at Memorial Park on March 25-27. The festival, which attracts 300 artists from around the country and approximately 60,000 festival goers over weekends each spring and fall, is one of the top festivals of its kind in the country and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
According to Guru Bhakti Dasi (Dr. Hansa Medley), outreach coordinator, festival-goers purchased 4800 samosas, 140 lbs of curried rice, 17 buckets of vegan BBQ “Tandoori” tofu, and 1325 glasses of mango lassis at the booth. “A lot of Western people in Houston already love samosas, and a number of the artists are vegetarians,” said Guru Bhakti. “But many people try the food for the first time at the festival, and then look for it again at the next festival or Indian restaurants in town.” According to Dr. Medley, some festival-goers also following up by attending vegetarian cooking classes organized by Karunamayi dasi, who teaches vegetarian and Ayurvedic cooking at local yoga studios and the temple.
A few years ago, Kim Stoilis, the Bayou City Art Festival CEO, requested the Krishna devotees to bring their vegan and vegetarian prasad to the festival in response to artists’ requests for a vegetarian alternative. Ms. Stoilis formerly headed the Houston Art Car Parade and she was familiar with the devotees’ food booths at that festival as well as the Houston International Festival. According to Guru Bhakti, after the new Hare Krishna Temple construction is completed the temple will establish a new vegetarian restaurant on its property at 1320 West 34th Street.
The Hare Krishna Temple will also have its food booth called Holy Cow at the upcoming Houston International Festival (I-fest) on the weekends of April 30-May 1 and May 7-8. The I-fest theme this year is the Silk Road, featuring India, China and other countries on the historic trade route. The Mayapuris, a leading kirtan group, will appear on multiple I-fest stages on Saturday, April 30 and on Center Stage on Sunday, May 1st. They will also participate in a special Indian community parade planned to open the festival.
Other performers at the festival over the two weekends include the Sri Natraj Bollywood Dancers, Rathna Kumar, David and Chandra Courtney, Anjali School of Indian Dance, Nrityasiri Center for the Performing Arts, Shratilaya Indian Design with “Fashions of the Silk Road,” Kalaangaan Dance School, Sunanda Nair Dance School, Sripadam Dance School, Bangra DJ Dance Bollywood Blast, and others.