A weekend club for family and friends on Saturdays, with an open-air, candlelit 12-course prasad dinner, music by a live band, a multimedia presentation and an exhibition at the art gallery — all on the evening’s entertainment menu, at someplace else.
The venue is not a swanky bar or five-star hotel, but, in fact, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness’ (Iskcon) relatively-new premises at 22, Gurusaday Road. It’s the Society’s newest plan to “promote Indian culture and spirituality, spread the word of Krishna and help the stressed-out young executives of the city to kick back and relax after a hard week’s work”.
Starting April 12, every Saturday night will follow the same fun pattern. For a fee of Rs 175 to Rs 225 per person, all and sundry are welcome to partake of the prasad, enjoy the ambience and socialise with ‘like-minded individuals’. A band of Iskcon devotees, dressed in their regulation dhoti-kurta-tilak, will spin out devotional lyrics, penned by the likes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, to “western tunes”, and maybe some George Harrison hits as well.
“People have forgotten their spirituality, and even how to relax. We want to bring back our traditional Indian culture, and at the same time, help over-worked Calcuttans chill out and unwind in a friendly atmosphere,” says Sudipto Mikherjee, secretary of Iskcon.
With parking space for up to 65 cars, a sprawling garden accommodating over 500 people and a huge kitchen in preparation mode, ‘An Evening in Paradise’, opposite Mainland China, is ready to roll. “We already have about 60 people signed up, and are just about to launch our promotional campaign,” says Mukherjee. It’s just prasad, he stresses, “but served in a unique surrounding”. And a sneak peak at the Saturday spread is quite a mouthful: mango, dahi vada, cocktail pizza, aloo dum in palak gravy, paneer matar capsicum, tandoori roti, dal makhani, jeera rice, gulab jamun, papad, hara chutney and meetha chutney.
The multimedia show on a giant screen will feature films like Krishna Vision and Hare Krishna’s World. The aim, Mukherjee says, is to build the trademark Iskcon temple on Gurusaday Road. But the crux lies in the cash. So, the weekend club should soon expand to breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekends. Govinda’s, Iskcon’s restaurant chain, will be another addition on the premises. “It will all happen in good time,” assures Mukherjee. “Meanwhile, we will continue to find new ways to spread our message. We expect a good response for the weekend club.”