"Sir! Where Can We Graze?"
In order to protect their land and their cows, on December 13th, 2011, Hungarian Krishna believers will hold a peaceful demonstration in front of the Parliament in Budapest.
The 270-hectare (approximately 650 acres) Krishna-valley farm is home to 300 monks and families, as well as 52 sacred cows and oxen. Due to new religious legislation passed in July, there is a good chance that after January 1st, 2012, the State will take over the land and the inhabitants will have to grab their belongings and disperse. One of Hungary`s main organic agricultural farming and tourist sites will thus have to close down.
Krishna-valley is situated near Somogyvamos, a cul-de-sac village in the western part of Hungary. The agricultural land was purchased by ISKCON devotees and supporters in 1993. The first adventurous believers moving there had to spend the winter in a former sheep barn, huddling in the cold. They could not cook or eat hot meals because the gas in the cylinder had frozen. Yet, they did not give up. Due to their perseverance, in a few years, the untended land was turned into a bountiful organic farm -- a blossoming paradise. Over the past few years, Krishna-valley has hosted over half a million tourists, school groups, families and students from all over the world. This farm based on organic agriculture, renewable energy use and sustainable development has been recognized as an exemplary project by the United Nations.
Who is going to sew the seeds in the spring?
Due to the new religious law that takes effect of the 1st of January, however, all of this might be relegated to the past. ISKCON, as the main representative of Hinduism in Hungary, is among those religious organizations that will lose their “church” status, and would have to transform into a different legal entity with much fewer rights (an “association”). To make ISKCON`s situation worse, according to the Hungarian laws, an “association” cannot own agricultural property. Thus Krishna-valley will fall into an “ex lex” status; and in the absence of a clear legal arrangement the land falls to the next possible owner, which is the State.
At the moment, in Krishna-valley, the monks and families with small children are anxiously waiting to find out their fate after the 1st of January. Would they have a place to live? Where would they graze their cows? Who is going to sew the seeds in the spring? Who is going to harvest the fruits and vegetables? What is to become of their continuing hard work and dedication?
Where shall they all go?
The members of the Krishna-community trust that the Parliament did not intend to make their lives impossible. However, these community members must acknowledge that no meaningful steps have been made by government officials to rectify the situation. Therefore, to draw their attention and spur them to action, the believers have decided to turn to the Hungarian and international public for help.
As a first step, on the 13th of December, they will hold a peaceful demonstration with their homeless-to-be cows, monks and families in front of the Hungarian Parliament. Everyone is welcome to join them there.
Krishna should leave Krishna-valley?
Also, anyone from any part of the world who wishes to help them make their case stronger is invited to sign the following petition:
"PROTECT THE HARE KRISHNAS' LAND AND THEIR SACRED COWS
The Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness is the main representative of the Hindu world religion in Hungary. The Krishna devotees are known for their diligent religious practices, dedication to distributing knowledge of eternal spiritual values and pure, exemplary lifestyles. Their efforts and achievements in assisting underprivileged people, as well as in fighting environmental problems and promoting sustainability, are also well known and valued worldwide.
Their Krishna-valley farm has brought hundreds of thousands of tourists and greater international recognition for Hungary. We are urging the Hungarian Parliament to make sure their lands, monks and sacred cows remain protected, and their invaluable services to society go on uninterrupted."
To sign the petition please click here:
"Rudolph, you have nothing to complain about. You are much luckier than the Hare Krishna`s cows": cartoon in a national Hungarian newspaper on December 5th.