Govinda’s Groceries is the Newest Store to Serve New Vrindaban Village

Govinda's Groceries New Vrindaban ISKCON

By Madhava Smullen

Govinda’s Groceries, recently opened next to Govinda’s Restaurant at the Palace Lodge and run by longtime residents Nityodita and his wife Radha Dasi, is the newest store to contribute to New Vrindaban’s growth as a village.

It joins four others, each with their own specialties: The Palace Gift Shop near the entrance to Prabhupada’s Palace is run by Krsna Bhava and Kripamaya and caters mainly to tourists.

The Temple Gift Shop, located inside the entrance to Radha Vrindabanchandra’s Temple and run by Vani and Rupanuga, serves mainly pilgrims.

The New Vrindaban Artisan Co-op, located along the side of the Palace Lodge and run by Jamuna Dasi, sells locally made gift items to tourists, pilgrims and locals.

And the thrift store Krishna’s Attic, located on the ground floor of the Palace Lodge and run by Ananta and Vilasini, sells donated clothes and household items.

Govinda's Groceries New Vrindaban ISKCON

Govinda’s Groceries, meanwhile, will serve as that age-old village staple, the general store.

“We look upon New Vrindaban as a small village,” says shopkeeper Nityodita Das. “And generally a village means you should be able to get everything within it. So the ideal vision is to have a store that caters to the basic needs of the residents.”

The idea is not new to New Vrindaban. Over the years there have been a string of general stores including ISKCON Groceries and Simply Wonderful, managed by Meghamala Dasi in the late 1970s and ‘80s, and Hanuman’s Healthfoods, run by Jamuna Dasi in in the 1990s and 2000s.

As well as providing groceries, snacks, herbal medicines and more, the general store was also a “nerve center” where residents picked up the latest news and found a sympathetic ear.

But when Jamuna’s store closed five years ago, there was a gap until ISKCON New Vrindaban president Jaya Krishna Das encouraged devotees to open shops on the ground floor of the Palace Lodge building, alongside Govinda’s Restaurant.

Govinda's Groceries New Vrindaban ISKCON

Govinda’s Groceries, marked by a window with frosted lettering advertising its wares, is a warm, welcoming space that customers can drop into through the restaurant via an attractive archway.

The result of a full makeover, it has mango-yellow walls, a ceramic tile wood-look floor, candle chandeliers, ornate shelving, and lots of natural light from its glass door and picture windows.

Open from 1pm to 6pm with a view to extend its hours soon, Govinda’s stock serves two distinct customer bases: pilgrims and resident devotees.

The pilgrims are attracted by its deity dioramas, gift items like bath soaps and jewelry, and especially its homemade New Vrindaban hot-sauce, maha-prasadam, and “Vrindavan” brand ghee, which is cooked and bottled in New Vrindaban.

For residents the stock is more practical. There are Indian spices, chapati flour, dosa mix, and organic couscous and millet. There are natural versions of quick-meal staples like canned beans, frozen vegetables and not-dogs, and breakfast items like cereal and almond milk.

There are also organic snacks like rice cakes, kettle chips and Natural Brews sodas. And there are prasadam items from devotee company Pure Bliss like granola, spicy nuts and health bars.

Govinda's Groceries New Vrindaban ISKCON

“Next we really want to develop a line of what I call fast prasadam,” Nityodita says. He’s most excited by this idea. “Homemade sandwiches, spring rolls, cheesecake and more — prasadam alternatives to temple fare.”

In September, once the tourist season is over, Nityodita plans to survey resident devotees so that he can supply them with more of what they want. He intends to add fresh bread to his shelves, and if there is the demand even a weekly organic vegetable co-op. The idea is that devotees will be able to fulfill their basic grocery shopping needs within the community.

Nityodita feels that Govinda’s Groceries and all the other stores at the Palace Lodge will help bring devotees together.

“Right now we’re all going outside the village to spend our money, which is kind of backwards to the purpose of living in a community,” he says. “Investing in local businesses brings us together to share resources. And, to me, that’s a nicer future.”

Information and Links

Join the fray by commenting, tracking what others have to say, or linking to it from your blog.

Write a Comment

Take a moment to comment and tell us what you think. Some basic HTML is allowed for formatting.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Click here to login.

Reader Comments

Be the first to leave a comment!