Festival planned as Krishna Lunch at UF turns 50 years old Thursday

Susan S. Johnson

Amid the days of bell bottom pants, anti-Vietnam-War protests and the Civil Rights movement, a musical, appetizing and spiritual tradition took root at the University of Florida’s Plaza of the Americas. Krishna Lunch began on July 29, 1971, when Hare Krishna founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada visited Gainesville and the university. […]

Amid the days of bell bottom pants, anti-Vietnam-War protests and the Civil Rights movement, a musical, appetizing and spiritual tradition took root at the University of Florida’s Plaza of the Americas.

Krishna Lunch began on July 29, 1971, when Hare Krishna founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada visited Gainesville and the university. He spoke at the plaza and inspired his followers to start the practice, according to press releases for the anniversary celebration.

Since then, the vegetarian meals have been offered at UF without interruption, amounting to over three million served to generations of hungry college students since the founder’s visit.

Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of Krishna Lunch at the UF, and the local Hare Krishna community is celebrating with three days of festivities open to anyone.

Flyer for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Krishna Lunch at the University of Florida and the Gainesville visit made by Hare Krishna founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. (Image courtesy of Bhadra Das)

The festival begins Thursday morning at the Plaza of the Americas with a series of speakers and breakfast.

UF President Kent Fuchs and Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe have been invited to talk around 8 a.m., said Kalakantha Das, a chaplain who used to help manage Krishna Lunch. There is also a live virtual discussion on the history of Krishna Lunch Thursday night, which can be viewed on the Krishna House Facebook page.

Friday afternoon, from 3-7, the celebration is planned to continue with an open house, tours and buffet at the Bhaktivedanta Institute, located at 224 NE 10th Ave. The institute is the scientific branch of the Hare Krishna movement.

The faithful sing and play instruments as people go through the line to get meals at Krishna Lunch at the Plaza of the Americas on the UF campus Tuesday.

And Saturday morning from 7:30 to 9:30, people are invited to the Krishna House, 214 NW 14th St., for another speaker panel, breakfast and ceremonial groundbreaking for the house’s new kitchen.

“Coming to this point is a great milestone for the Krishna community in Alachua County,” Das said. “Our main hope is that people will have a chance to share in the celebration … there are so many people who have enjoyed Krishna Lunch over the years but don’t know anything about it.”

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