I decided to visit the ISKCON Hare Krishna Temple of San Diego-Pacific Beach. The sub tradition of this church is Hare Krishna on the 16th of March. It is located on 1030 Grand Avenue. In the temple, I had the opportunity to talk to Mahat-Tattva dasa, the temple president. I chose this particular site since it gave me a variety of religions to choose from. Apart from that, the site gave me detailed information on the traditions and sub traditions of each religion. It also provided me with contact information and addresses.
ISKCON Hare Krishna-Pacific Beach temple is a magnificent modern building built designed in the style of Hindu architecture. It is a white rectangular building surrounded with a neat verandar made of red metal bars. The outline of the windows and the door is also painted red. Inside the temple, one can see the magnificent decoration of the Hindu religion. Gold ornaments cover the front chamber of the church. White veils cover the roof from the center to the sides. The ornate temple walls are painted white with ancient Hindu decorations and pictures.There is a stature of the founder of the ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad in front of the temple. The wall details include a painting of a woman wearing golden bracelets and clothing standing on a flower. There are also paintings of white peacocks. The walls are reinforced with white pillars with red and golden caps. The floor is made of marble and white slippery tiles. When entering the temple one has to remove their footwear since it is considered to be a holy place.
The service started with holy words from the president, which sounded like a prayer. The prayer was conducted in Hindu. After that the lead speaker, Athul Punam, introduced himself and went forward to read the schedule of the day. It was an agricultural workshop on sustainable agriculture. The main emphasis was on soil preparation and composition.
The congregation was introduced to a Hindu agricultural specialist who would guide them through the workshop. Samples of soil were presented in front of the church for the congregation to examine. Among the samples were black cotton soil, sandy soil, loamy-clay soil and red volcanic soil. The agricultural specialist pointed out that the black cotton soil was suitable for planting crops like sugarcane, corn, barley, wheat and many vegetables. He pointed out that a large part of the wheat growing region in Canada had this type of soil. He also pointed out that it was rare to find red volcanic soil in the US due to low volcanic activities. According to him, this was the reason tea and coffee farming was less popular in the US.
He took another 20 minutes to explain that technology was an important aspect in preparing and maintaining soil. According to him, use of less technical tools for agriculture ensured minimal mixing of soil nutrients. I discovered from this forum that most of the soil nutrients are leached to the subsoil layer of the soil. Therefore, tools that do not penetrate deep into the ground are unable to dig up the mineral elements. This leads to an accumulation of leached mineral salts on the subsoil layer making the top soil layer lose its fertility. However, he also cautioned that use of heavy machinery such as compound harvesters compressed the soil making it harden. This reduces the aeration of the soil and therefore more frequent ploughing is required to ensure adequate aeration.
The speaker then took another 20 minutes to talk about the use of inorganic fertilizer and organic manure. In the session I learnt that too much use of inorganic manure caused soil degradation. Inorganic manure should therefore be mixed with organic fertilizer to ensure a balance in the inorganic mineral composition and symbiotic microbes in the soil. He also pointed out that the ratio of inorganic fertilizer to organic manure should be kept to at least 1:3. This meant that the use of one kilogram of inorganic manure required accompaniment of 3 kilograms of organic fertilizer.
The speaker then produced a chart to show the composition of the soil. He accompanied it with a PowerPoint presentation to make the information more vivid. From the information, soil has 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air and 5% inorganic matter. In San Diego, the soils are agriculturally poor due to its location and climatic conditions. According to Mr. Punam, lack of forests and the coastal desert conditions are some of the setbacks that agriculture is faced with. Therefore it is upon the San Diegans to engage in irrigation farming to ensure that forests are developed which would then provide water catchment areas. Mr. Punam also pointed out that the next workshop, which would be held on the 6th of April, will focus on irrigation.
The last hour was spent outside the temple house. The members of the congregation who attended were asked to visit the tents that were erected to showcase important agricultural knowledge. An architectural presentation of a college student among the congregation was of great interest to me. It was a big forest and palm trees covering the entire coast on the architectural plan of the city, with the vast desert. Mr. Punam said that he was hoping for the agricultural authority of the state of California to consider this plan when structuring the irrigation and forest planting plan.
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One thing I learnt about this religion is that it is very interactive and very supportive. Contrary to beliefs people have strict cultural adherence, these people incorporate the current trends and emerging issues in their society. That is why they organized a workshop to enlighten the people about agriculture. However, it is true that these people maintain an intact social relationship. They have sense of unity which distinguishes them from other religions. I feel very privileged to have interacted with these people.