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DC Devotee Dovetails Passion for Prasadam into Service to Seniors

(iskconnews.org) – DC Devotee Dovetails Passion for Prasadam into Service to Seniors

Shyama Rasika Devi Dasi, a Washington, DC devotee, has dovetailed her passion for prasada into cultivating meaningful relationships with several area organizations that serve seniors.

With the support of her husband Nikunj Ras and encouragement from her spiritual master HH Radhanath Swami and friends like Rukmini Devi Dasi, who played a significant role in inspiring her to use her cooking skills in the service of Krsna and promote prasadam distribution, Shyama Rasika recently established a small food catering business called, “Mumbai Junction.” Through word-of-mouth, the business quickly gained popularity and grew in a very short time. Every item on the menu and each order is offered to their deities: Jagannath, Baladev, and Subhadra, before being picked up by customers. Additionally, she includes one of Srila Prabhupada’s small books as a gift to customers with each order.

As her business flourished, Shyama Rasika was introduced to a managing committee member of Senior Connection of Montgomery County (SCMC), an organization dedicated to providing programs and services that enhance the independence, mobility, and quality of life for senior citizens in the area. SCMC is partially funded by Montgomery County, Maryland, and organizes various trips and events for senior citizens, including food arrangements and transportation.

“One day, a regular customer who was also an SCMC board member placed a large order with me for one of the SCMC trips, which typically involved up to 26 attendees,” Shyama Rasika remembered, “My husband and I volunteered to help with the trip, mainly managing the crowd and logistics. The attendees enjoyed the prasadam so much that they gave positive feedback and requested SCMC to place regular orders with her and support her small business. Now she is the primary food vendor for SCMC’s weekly Saturday trips, providing breakfast prasadam.

Shyama Rasika Devi Dasi center in blue with bus to New Vrindaban.

Encouraged by SCMC to provide trip recommendations, Shyama Rasika and Nikunj Ras suggested visiting Sri New Vrindaban Dham in West Virginia. The group’s senior members, mostly over 65, embraced the idea and organized a one-day trip to the iconic Hare Krishna farm community. The trip was a great success, with attendees enjoying the beautiful surroundings, visiting the temple, and learning more about ISKCON and its founder-acharya Srila Prabhupada during a tour of the Palace of Gold, with the special arrangements by Jaya Krsna Das for the seniors. The positive experience led to multiple trips to New Vrindaban with new and previous senior members, and each time, she and her husband volunteered to help and brought prasadam and kirtan (devotional chanting) along the way.

“While these trips initially served as recreation for the seniors, they became much more meaningful,” said Shyama Rasika, “For many of the attendees, it may be their only experience of Krsna consciousness and to visit a holy dham.” Her primary purpose in encouraging and offering prasadam for these trips was to bring the seniors one step closer to Krsna, especially as they were in the final stages of life. Shyama Rasika was heartened to see that some attendees started meditating, chanting japa (repeating the Hare Krsna mantra), reading books, and listening to kirtan regularly.

Her reputation for delicious prasadam spread through social media, and she was approached by two other organizations, Rainbow Health Center and AAvanee, to provide prasadam and distribute books for their events. Impressed by the quality of her food and preaching efforts, she also conducts meditation sessions for the women’s and seniors’ groups, where they chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, practice breathing exercises, and engage in mindful discussions once a week.

With the help of her daughter Samradni Shinde, she recently started a YouTube channel for Satvik food.

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