A café well-known by area vegans and vegetarians has re-opened and will celebrate its return to the community on Friday, October 11. Govinda’s Café, as the establishment is known, is steeped in the Vedic traditions of India and East Asia. Here, it’s not just about flesh-free foods, it’s about ancient traditions from the India, the cradle of vegetarianism.
Adjacent to the café, which is located in Denver at 1400 Cherry Street, is the Radha Govinda Temple, which has been home to Denver’s Hare Krishna community since 1972. Hare Krishna practitioners are Yogis known as Bhakti Yogis, who practice love and charity and adhere strongly to the Yogic principle of Ahimsa-non-harming of any beings. Divinity scholars say the religions of India that preceded the Vedic era that gave birth to the modern Hindu religion put much emphasis on animal sacrifice. This helped give rise to vegetarianism in the Vedic era that is practiced by roughly half the population of India today. India’s population roughly equals that of China, and thus comprises over one eighth of all humans inhabiting the Earth.
The café will serve vegetarian as well as vegan food. While many Indians are vegan. Many more are vegetarian, which means they eat a diet free of flesh but which may include dairy products and possibly eggs. The “vedge curious crowd”-people who still eat a traditional diet but seek to learn about vegan food through experience, will have the opportunity of sampling a buffet with various entrees, unique breads, yogurts that are quite different from those in the western world, as well as soups and salads.
True to its mission, Govinda’s will have many cultural offerings that complement the message of its vegetarian food. The Café only operates on Fridays and Saturdays as of now, but those who come for a cultural feast of sorts can enjoy free vegetarian food in the later evening. The cultural program is free for all who attend and begins with musical meditation at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday evenings. Musical meditation is also known as Kirtan, which involves responsorial singing of Sanskrit chants.
Kirtan was created by Bahkti Yogis centuries ago in India as a means of singing prayer, eulogy, storytelling and general spiritual connection. It is practiced widely in India today along with many surrounding cultures. It is an integral part of the Sikh religious tradition. Sikhism is the youngest of the monotheistic religions. Kirtan is also practiced by some Buddhists, and it is also practiced in a secular manner by many American practitioners of Yoga, especially in the Kundalini Yoga tradition.
Musical meditation is followed by a 75-minute, free class on the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is considered a holy text by Hindus, but is also referenced secularly for philosophical study by many American Yogis of different religious traditions. Many American Yoga teachers and students study the Gita at some point in the development of their practices. Vegetarianism is also practiced by an increasing number of American Yogis.
Govinda’s cultural program offers good insight to the Yoga-curious as well as the Vedge-curious.