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Jai Nitai Dasa, Hare Krishna devotee
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a Hare Krishna devotee in London

Written by
Danielle Goldstein

…according to Jai Nitai Dasa, 45.

Devotees are given new names at their initiation

‘I was working in investment banking and earning a decent salary but engaging in lots of drinking and drugging. I realised the path I was on was a dangerous one and decided to look at alternatives. After some years of practice and training, I took vows and received a spiritual name to help me remember Krishna. My birth name is James Edwards, but my spiritual name is Jai Nitai Dasa, which means “he who is the servant of the glorious lord Nityananda”.’

The London Hare Krishna temple has its own record label

‘We started Radha Krishna Records on our fortieth anniversary – about eight years ago – and we’ve had eight or nine releases. It’s not a huge income source, but it’s a great way for us to engage our community. We have devotees who are audio engineers, artists and graphic designers, so it’s a way to collate all of these abilities. As far as I know we’re the only temple in the world that has its own record label.’

London devotees take the same walk every Saturday night

‘We walk down Charing Cross Road to where the Harry Potter thing is, up Shaftesbury Avenue, through Chinatown to Piccadilly and back through Soho. This is because we can have up to 50 or 70 people, and sometimes they show up late and join us at different points. We’ve walked that route for the last 25 years.’

Buskers aren’t keen on the competition

‘Sometimes the buskers don’t like us because we come through, singing and dancing, and we’re not collecting money – we’re just doing it for the love of God. Otherwise, I think most people have a positive reaction to us.’

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