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Child's Play Down On the Farm

by Elisabeth Amante Heys, The Prague Post

Posted September 21, 2007


For a closer view of rural life, a trip to Krišnův dvůr, a farm near Benešov run by Hare Krishna devotees, won’t disappoint. Children will be charmed by the tethered she-goat, awed by the vast fields of grain and eager to take the bullock cart ride, pulled by a white Hungarian bull with a horn-spread of at least 2 meters. (Schedule your ride in advance).


Krišnův dvůr is no sanitized Disneyland. The 40-hectare (99-acre) property is a real farm that demands a lot of hard work. Nearly 20 Krishna devotees live on or near the farm, producing enough to sustain themselves plus to supply two Prague restaurants, a Prague bakery and a retail Web business. They stone-grind their own grain and package 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of flour weekly.


On Sundays, children are invited to make bread. The end product, a salty Indian puri, is thoroughly appreciated after seeing how the grain is sown, harvested and milled, using oxen as well as machinery.

Watch out; kids may fall in love with Tilak. He’s the horse with a white browmark resembling the painted designs that Hare Krishna followers wear, in yellow, on their own foreheads. The mark is called “tilak,” hence the horse’s name.


While on the farm, youngsters may have a chance to experience some face-painting of their own, using mud dyed with turmeric to achieve the desired ochre and vermillion hue. With advance notice, little girls can get a sari-wrapping demonstration and a chance to wear a sari, the traditional dress of India.

As for worship, a service (in Czech and Sanskrit) begins at 2 p.m. every Sunday, and the public is invited. It is quite lengthy, however, and may not hold a child’s interest, although the instruments are fascinating: cymbals, harmonium, the mridanga drum and, of course, voices raised in chant.


At the very least, kids will enjoy a peek inside the temple, which is really just a smallish meeting room with a raised altar and two lavishly dressed deities. These are brothers and incarnations of Krishna, according to Krišnův dvůr spokesman Priya-kirti das, 33. The statues are not worshipped, but they are revered.

The Sunday Feast occurs after the temple service, usually around 4 p.m. And a feast it is, with devotees and guests picnicking on the grass (in good weather) as peacocks hoot and caw from the trees above. The portions are more than generous and flavorful, but not hotly spiced. Most everything served is grown on the farm and made fresh, including the paneer, a light curded cheese. For dessert, you may be served a mouthwatering apple-raisin samosa, lightly dusted with powdered sugar.


Priya-kirtidas, a medical engineer, joined the Hare Krishna movement in 1991 and now lives near the farm with his wife and newborn son. Asked what kids might get out of a visit to Krišnův dvůrr, he says, “A sense that life can be lived every day in nature. Children come here, they meet our children, and they have a pleasant day at our farm. It’s a good time — inspiring, healthy, tasty.”

We would concur.


For preschoolers: Young children can be accommodated, with advance notice, for a half-day of age-appropriate activities including face-painting, bread-making and singing.

For families: Attend the Sunday Feast, arriving at about 3:30 p.m. to catch the end of the temple service, staying on for supper and briefly touring the farm after.

For groups: Eight or more may schedule a ride around the farm in a bullock cart, visit the temple and, on Sunday, stay for the feast.

Cost: A free-will offering is requested; 125 Kč ($6.15) for adults and 75 Kč per child would be appropriate for the feast and a self-tour, a bit more if special arrangements are required.

How to get there: Take the train to Městečko u Benešova, changing at Benešov u Prahy for a short ride to the Městečko station. The farm is 100 meters (325 feet) down the road from this stop. A return trip is three hours.

Contact: To make special arrangements or reserve the bullock cart, e-mail Priya-kirti das at pkd@krisnuvdvur.cz. For more information, check www.krisnuvdvur.cz.


Reposted from The Prague Post, September 12th, 2007.