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This is the documentary on one from ARTA in Ireland. This week's documentary is made by Nathan Walsh. He's a recently graduated media student. For his final year project, he decided to make a radio documentary about an adventure that his sister and her friends embarked upon when they were in their early teens. Nathan never really knew what was going on with them, so he used his college documentary as a way to find out more. That college documentary then became this week's documentary on one.
And by the way, you can look at photos from the documentary on our webpage or to Eastertide for it's stuck on one. And here's the documentary narrated by Nathan Walsh. This is the deadly Sari's. OK, so I guess just just begin then with how you both met and we met, we were around 12 years old and first year this is my twin sister, Radha.
Yeah. And her friend Helen. And we were on the hockey team together and we just got at hockey. Now, we're pretty brutal as a team, but it was like saying, Trinian's, I was going to stick. You were good at helping people get. Rahad and Helen are now both in their 40s. But I'm going to take you back to when they were 15 to a moment when their lives changed, when they took on a lifestyle that gave them contentment and ecstasy, but also frustration and sadness.
And for some of their family members, that lifestyle caused confusion and dismay.
It was the summer of 1993, the girls or from Lukan in West County, Dublin, had come into the city centre to hang out.
And the weather, I remember being quite good. They got some food and wandered around for a bit.
Go get the Burger King chips and a drink on Abbey Street for a pound, then Grafton Street and always be Bosco's.
Oh yeah. So we used to sit and watch them. Yeah. And then as they were walking down Grafton Street, a sound drifted towards them, we heard drums and cymbals approaching and what started?
Maxine Waters, these guys in saffron dresses jumping up and down, and they just looked crazy. They had shaved heads and little ponytails and they were singing and they just seemed so happy and just really just looked stoned and just really out of it. But really, really happy. I'm like, oh, my God, what's the story with them? We want some of that. And some of them are quite cute, too. Yeah. Yeah.
The girls asked around and discovered that these were Hari Krishnas and that they had a temple, a nearby dam street the minute you went in.
Even to this day, you can remember the smell of it and then, yeah, kind of even the music playing in the background and the books. Everything was so different, wasn't it. Yeah.
And the pictures up on the wall and then cushions and everything sits on the floor and sings. The Hari Krishna movement is a Hindu religion, devotees shave their heads and wear robes and saris, they pray throughout the day and don't eat meat consumed stimulants like tea, coffee or alcohol.
Some live like monks giving up their lives outside the movement and living without any material goods, often living in temples, they survive on donations and the sale of holy books.
The international version of the Harry Krishna movement was founded in New York in 1966. And in 1972, a group arrived to set up a temple in Dublin. There were soon arrested, though, for disturbing the peace by singing and dancing in Dublin's Grafton Street when addressing them. The judge commented that no decent Irish man would read like they did.
This is from an Aute TV archive report about the Hari Krishna temple in certain county, Dublin. They get up every morning at four o'clock and for five hours they chant Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Hari Rama, Hari Krishna are repeating his name all the time. They believe that they will eventually achieve Krishna consciousness when they achieve this. They no longer need the material things of this world can devote themselves to Krishna. That was 1973.
But even 20 years later, the practices of the Hari Krishnas were still quite alien spices you've never heard of in different dishes.
You'd never heard of the double. And then vegetarian cooking, for example, was still pretty unusual.
You know, you're used to your mum making your boiled carrots and broccoli or cabbage and all of a sudden you've got like a taste that just explode in your mouth.
Yeah, the girls were intrigued.
The chant, the dance, and you kind of got into a trance or something nearly when you were chanting the guys. And it was quite admirable that they were all very good looking and early 20s and they've given up everything to do this.
And not just the clothes and the food and the music. They like the teachings of the Hari Krishnas as well. They they'd already learned the Christian notions of hell and damnation, the Catholic religion.
It was you go to heaven or you go to hell and hell, you're just damned forever. And if you go to hell, you never go back.
And that's it. Where is the Harrys? Their God wasn't so evil and OK, they have a house, but at least you can get back, you know. It's like you're not damned forever if you do something bad. So I remember thinking, yeah, that's cool.
I can go and reincarnation as well. Yeah. No, your dad, your dad, you can keep going here and you might see people you love them too to.
This wasn't the girl's first interest in religion. They'd already attended youth masses and centres run by the local Catholic and Presbyterian churches, but not necessarily for spiritual reasons.
Every church of every youth or anything that we went to, we either fancied the priest or some of the guys that were there.
And although the Harry Christian men were good looking brother and Helen, we're not the ideal candidates for a strict no alcohol, no material goods type religion like the Hari Krishnas. They like to hang out and drink with their gang in Loken and they've been caught.
Shoplifting was never like things like alcohol or cigarettes was like fun size bars or chocolate or pens for school or stuff like that.
And we were quite professional after a few months. Yeah, but eventually we got the girls.
Mothers dealt with the shoplifting in slightly different ways.
Helen's mother, Marie, brought her down to the Garden Station and got to go to frightening Sokolove princess. And I waited and she said I smelled the urine and. And she was never going to ever again.
My mom, Sharon, took a different approach with my sister, rather, can still remember being marched all around the local shops and made me admit to the managers, even shops, that I obviously hadn't been caught in, like Super Quynh and everywhere and say what I dropped, even if it was only like two font size bras and made me admitted to every single manager in the local area as my penance.
I remember going home, my mom and dad bringing me into their bedroom and give me a hug and tell me if I ever want anything that bad. They'll give me the money.
And we did. We learned our lesson and Daphne did scare us. Never done.
You know, it was good in that way that we did get it wrong because we definitely learned.
Yeah, despite the Harry crystalised solving so different to what they were used to and the fact that they were only 15, Radha and Helen took to it with gusto.
We started going into the temple practically every day.
Every evening there was class. So to be a in and then talk about the philosophy and the more singing and then food, you just could never get enough ever.
And you'd always be talking about the class and singing or at the end the classes you'd be trying to hang around or wash your pelf, do anything around the temple just so you could stay longer. Yeah, it was like a drug, they just yeah. More and more and more. It definitely was no drugs and no I dunno, we were disappointed briefly.
Yeah. So then we thought they put it in their food. They had to put the drugs into food. But then, like, after a few days we interviewed and we weren't stoned and they didn't actually take drugs. The girls were still straddling two different worlds, the temple in Dublin City Center, hanging around and partying with their friends and Lukan. Sometimes those worlds clashed, munching drunk a couple of times.
One time I was able to hide a but in true hell and fashion she didn't. And one of the guys, Gary, did a class and at the start of the class he starts singing Hari Krishna song. So he started singing and Helen decided to get up and dance right in front of him, giving it loud and telling everyone else to get up and dance. And this is like a really quiet room. And Gary was saying, sit down, sit down.
And she wouldn't. And then so they put us out there and I think they put us there after I tell them I love them.
I love you know, I don't hate you know, I love you. In those early days, the girls didn't find a newfound devotion just to the temple they brought up, I go to Logan to we'd actually go out wearing sheets because we didn't have the saris and we'd get a bed sheet and wrap it around us and do that in our local areas.
I had an altar in my bedroom and I was sharing my bedroom at this time with my two sisters. And I had an altar on top of a locker where I had little deities like statues of Krishna, and I used to wash them every day and dress them and my sisters Zyda. So I'm sure they thought I was crackers. The Rakove near.
You're standing over them. I thought they were cool because I was never cool.
This is one of those younger sisters, Claire. She's five years younger than Helen. She was 10 at the time.
What are your earliest memories? Can you remember them wearing clothes or.
They didn't do all that at the start. It was just them going in to the temple, sometimes hiding the fact that they were going there. So there wasn't the culture shock straightaway. There wasn't the wear and the jewelry and the clothes and chanting it all straight away. But then slowly you'd start to, you know, you'd see Helen lying in bed with her beads and chanting and be like, What are you doing? I just thought it was all a bit weird.
Although I didn't know Claire at the time. I shared her feelings about the girls strange new interest and the changes that I noticed, which were happening pretty quickly. Within weeks, the girls had become vegetarian and then they had their noses pierced, but we didn't know why they got their noses.
Principal The reason why is because women are very lusty and it controls your sexual desires. Chastity, I think.
Or something. Something like that. Of course, Helen and Ratas parents were watching this sudden change with interest, Helen's father, Johnny, is now dead, but her mother, Marie, remembers how they both reacted to Helen's interest in the Harry Krishnas.
There's actually quite good. I was very happy. And so by economic. We want to be an appeal to a happy day, so we left the Rada and I didn't have a father in our lives. We grew up with just our mother, Sharon, at the beginning. She wasn't too concerned about Rada getting into the Harry Christian lifestyle, because I think in the beginning I didn't take it seriously at all.
And then it began to dawn on me that the girls were a bit more serious than I thought they were to start with. And I just couldn't believe it, because, honestly, the diaries were a joke and I couldn't believe that a child of mine would actually want to be involved.
Why are they here? Joke. Well, you know, there were harmless and they were sweet and they were dancing in the streets and banging their drums and the music was always nice. But honestly, it was not something as a young teenager that you would imagine that a teenager would want to get involved with.
Certainly, I wouldn't have thought in the early 1990s there were reasons for the parents to be watchful of Radha and Helen's interest in the Hari Krishnas.
I had a daughter 13 years old.
This is Mary Murphy being interviewed by Marianne Finucan just a few years beforehand, and she was taking ballet lessons on Saturday.
And one morning I received a phone call from the ballet company asking me why Susan has been attending her ballet classes. And when Susan came home, I confronted her and she admitted that she had been going to this temple.
The temple Mary refers to was a Harry Krishna temple in Boston near Mary's home. Her daughter Susan then left home altogether. And although Mary had been told that her 13 year old was living with the Hari Krishnas, they denied it.
They consistently said that she wasn't there. That's right. And that I did.
And they denied it to the police yesterday, denied that they ever heard a new offer, had ever seen it transpired that Susan was there and that although she was still a child, she had been married to another divorcee. When she eventually left the Hari Krishnas, Susan and Mary took a case against them for emotional distress and mistreatment. The case ultimately failed. Hari Krishna movement settled with the Murphys like. Were you worried that she's going to vote or.
I was yeah, I was. I was worried. I it was just disbelief. And also there was this thing, you know, it certainly looked like a cult.
She definitely was brainwashed. She came to the temple a few times to get me out. And she definitely was not impressed. And she's like, that's enough. Now, come on. I wouldn't go stand. She just left.
Yeah. And how did your mom ever go to the temple? Yeah, my mom and dad were great, actually. They looked noble at the start.
They were a bit worried about me because they thought they were only after money, which two teenagers had nothing.
It's never really good. And they came to the temple, they came to a festival and dance.
There were all done. So we didn't want we were sitting on chairs, which I was going was good for. Yeah. Yeah. And what did you think when you saw Adam and Radha dancing and singing?
I was glad to see dances in the street, so. Yeah, yeah. Yep, yeah.
And what was your first impression then when you went into the temple.
So they paid obeisance which is lying flat on the ground in front of what I saw was statues, Helen's younger sister, Claire.
And again, I thought it was nonsense. I thought like it's dolls on an altar. Why are you lying flat on your stone worshipping these things? I thought it was crazy, but it was fun, too, because all the dancing and the food.
I can remember visiting the temple once with the girls and a few of our friends, Radha and Helen, were in their element, singing and dancing, giving it loads for the rest of us, thought it was bonkers, not to mention amusing. We stood at the back, clapping along uncomfortably, occasionally breaking out until after the girls didn't care. And it was clear, even at this early stage that they thought the joke was on us, not them.
I went along to a couple of the festivals and I would always enjoy them. I mean, the music was always great and they always seemed to be pretty harmless.
My mother, though, thought she detected an attitude to women that she did not like, but it is very misogynistic and is very much run by the guys for the guys and all the singing and the chanting and the bright colors and the nice food really couldn't disguise that. At the end of the day, it was all about the guys and the girls would be at the back of the stage at any show. Lights wouldn't be on them. They'd be just stood there doing their little chant and the guys would be out the front of the stage, fully spotlit, banging and chanting and, you know, taking the lead role.
Although the Harry Krishnas were in many ways very different to the seemingly boring religion that Helen Andrada had grown up with in Ireland, the movement's attitude to women and sex seemed to match that of traditional Christianity. No sex before marriage, sex only for procreation, separation of the sexes. The so-called modesty of women seems to be a constant feature. You're not allowed wear your hair down, you're not even allowed to brush your hair in front of men, you're supposed to stand a different side to men because in the Harry Krishnas, some men choose to get married, but some don't.
And they live as monks. So the whole idea is that we wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that and that we were almost like the evil, the sirens. So you wouldn't do that. You wouldn't wear your hair down in front of them. You wouldn't wear local tops, you'd cover up.
Yeah, that's not how we acted. No, I had a problem with feeling men's bombs at the time and all the celibate monks got their bone felt.
And I would wear belly tops and make sure to show them if a man was telling the story their ages. I was a 15 year old hormonal teenager and like that kind of carry on then.
How did it go down within the temple? Or really ever said anything, because I'm sure if you got your asphalted yourself, a monkey, not really going to go and tell the other celeb amongst this girl just touched my ass.
But it did stop once we got more seriously into the actual philosophy and movement, all that carry on stuff. And we did do standing on the opposite side. Yeah, not interacting with them. Not watching after. Yeah. After a short time with the Harry crispiness, Rod and Helen were given their first series, the kinds of dresses worn by women on the Indian subcontinent. They can still remember how they felt the first time they put them on. You feel like your prop.
Yeah, I mean, I don't know. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So proud. Yeah, you don't have a clue. It's just draped over you. But you feel deadly. Yeah. You're not just to pretend you're the real deal.
Rather loved wearing this area, but our mom, Sharon wasn't as impressed. She thought the girls looked nothing like the girls in India.
The Indian girls always managed to look really beautiful and this pair managed to look like complete clowns. They'd put the head thing over their heads and then took it behind them. I mean, I never saw or ever saw a bit more like that ever. Sari and runabouts.
Yeah, T-shirt. They used to call it a deadly series because we had different accents and we were real jobs. And we come in. You have to big renovates. I'm sorry. Yeah, so did Carliss. We were known for a long time as the deadly Sirees.
The girls might have been deadly in the temple, but when they came home they were a pain. They refused to eat from any of our plates and saucepans because in the past they've been used to serve and cook meat.
There were like sinner's, though I remember if you did go home from the temple and they'd be eating meat like an animal. Yeah. You'd actually see that, that they were like animals there.
And I wouldn't sit at a table. I wouldn't use cutlery or plates that meat had been on.
She might say, that's a cow. Just across the street that night and. So the sacred in Ireland is sacred Indian. So them I'm happy maybe, but I wasn't going to be preached to. We will sit on our family and we sit and we drink or tea or coffee and whatever, and then they would take over the kitchen to make their vegetarian meals.
There was coming in from work one evening and going into the kitchen and immediately retching because the pair of them had discovered how to make pannier. I think it was Finnair. But what was involved was putting what looked like Katic. Onto a tea towel to drain on the sink. Now, I believe it was middle cards will look like middle cards, and it certainly didn't smell like it was absolutely disgusting. We learned how to do it later.
Yeah. Like I remember for festivals, we'd be put in the kitchen, too, and you literally would be making hundreds of Somoza's. I remember early days being kicked out of the kitchen for not being able to roll. There's a certain way that you roll Somoza's is quite fancy. I remember being kicked out so I wasn't able to do. And then in later years I used to be the one called to do it in the Hari Krishna temple.
If you're a good cook, you are well regarded, but if you're a good bookseller, you got serious respect.
They were treated like gods, like I think people bow down every day, their scores to be called. So like if you sold 100 books, I going be cheering. Yeah. Yeah. And and were they charging money for the books? A donation. Yeah.
And that's it. So the money then would all get handed over to the temple. Oh yes. Yeah, yeah. So there was a league table essentially of salaries bringing in money to do that. Yeah.
Well even within Ireland they used to sell paintings and the Christians have their own island of North on Lokken County Fermanagh and they used to sell paintings to finance the island and the upkeep and stuff, but they were pulling in a lot of money to unmarried couples. They used to hand over all the money to and then the temple president at the time would give them back an allowance. So, yeah, but they used to make big money. Then we're talking ten grand a week.
Maybe so, yeah. Big money. That island temple that the girls referred to was where a lot of the Dublin the voters were headed for that first Christmas in 1993. The girls really wanted to go and stay over because they were only 15. They needed permission from their parents.
So we both forged theirs from my parents and we snuck an overnight bag over health and we got the bus up to Fermanagh and went to High Krishna Island. Nowadays we have festivals like Electric Picnic, Body and Soul that have alternative food and music, chill out zones and yoga. But that was unheard of back in 1993, certainly to two teenagers from Loken. So you can imagine the impact that going to the Hari Krishna Island would have had on them. It's one of the islands on Oprah Lakhan, and it's just surrounded by trees and the only way over to it is it was a rowboat at the time.
There's a walkway all around it and the only building is the actual island. It's a really old house, kind of stately home, isn't it?
Yeah. And it really grand whites there. Yeah.
There's Harry Krishnas everywhere and there's probably music in the background. There's peacocks walking around and they're on the island and it's just absolutely magical as beautiful. It was most amazing experience ever. Yeah, it was like so full, I was so happy. The food was gorgeous. I was singing for hours and hours and hours and everyone was like jumping around. Absolutely. Mad's. When the girls got back from the island, a passion for the Harry Krishna movement was even more intense.
They were still in school, though, just about. We were quite bright, but we didn't apply ourselves very well. We were in the top class in school and we both the junior cert, but we used to skip school and just hang out with friends or go drinking. Cause trouble when we were in school, it spent a lot of the time waiting outside the office to see the principal.
I was worried in that to me it looked like there were going to throw away their opportunities for an education. And that's actually what did happen in the mid 1990s. Radha and having both dropped out of school during fifth year against all the wishes against principals to teachers, everyone.
Helen's mother, Marie, I offered her 200 pounds at a time at the end of the year if she finished school for clothes and shoes and stuff better for herself.
And ASADA would keep her in school, but no, she didn't. And how did you and Johnny feel when she left school?
We were disappointed because she had the brains to go.
She very brainy, high Christian, Christian, Christian or Christian. Harry. Harry. Harry. Harry, rather. And Helen now spent more time than ever in the temple. Harry. Rama. Harry. Harry. Harry.
You say that over and over again.
Well, hundred and eight times five. Sixteen. Yeah. 108 times is one round. And then you do that 16 times per day.
So when you when you were doing this, what were you thinking in your head? Well, you're trying to think about creation of a everything kind of pops into your heads and you're trying to control your mind only to think of Krishna said, in a time when you're dying, you think in Krishna and then you go back to Krishna, but you could think about have to sweep the floor. I have to cook.
Don't fall asleep sometimes very early in the morning and just keep practicing it because it's really, really hard. So it's just about keeping your mind clear, even just for that moment. And did you enjoy doing it? Yeah, I love doing a lot of meditation. It was quite effective, too, wasn't it? Yeah, pretty chilled. Yeah.
They may have been pretty chilled, but their families found them hard going.
Oh, they were very holier than thou writers.
And my mother, Sharon, they were the only ones who understand how to keep yourself pure, which was a love for that pair, was concerned because up until then there'd be no attempts to keep themselves before they became, I suppose, the recently converted.
I always found it interesting how many crazy people I met along the way that Helen associate with Helen's younger sister, Clare.
There was a girl who Helen brought to my house and who walked up and down the hall incessantly chanting Hare Krishna, Krishna rocking back and forth for hours at a time. It attracted a special kind of person, and I met a lot of them over the years. And it did make me wonder what I had gone wrong, that they were attracted to this thing.
Did you ever try and convince them to leave it there?
Yeah, all the time. I had a deep interest in religion when I was a teenager, not getting involved with finding out more about all of them. There's a day at the zoo they have never let me forget because we had a massive row about evolution when I said that orangutans were so like humans and the whole day was ruined because, of course, evolution didn't exist to them. It was all reincarnation. Yeah, there was a lot of times I fought with the two of them over it.
But again, I was a smart ass and they were so dedicated to their religion that it didn't work all the time. They blindly worshipped, if you saw these two, when their spiritual masters were around these spiritual masters of rock into the room and they get down on their hands and knees and start worshipping, it was to me they were just men in dresses.
But to Helen and Raba, these men in dresses were devotees who provided guidance in a new lifestyle that was very fulfilling for them. And when they both turned 18 in 1996, they took what for them was the next logical step, but for their families was a momentous decision like.
The two young women decided to become Harry Christian. They moved up to live on the island in Fermanagh and follow the rigorous daily schedule on.
You wake up about half today and the first program starts at half four, and that's greeting of the detainees or their guards, the statues. So you'd be offering shower downstairs dressed and there'd be some singing. And then there's the worship, the Tulsa plant, and then there's your two hours personal meditation. And then at around seven o'clock was an introductory puja. That's for the spiritual master.
Yeah, that's the next program. And then there's a class about their philosophy. So that'll go on till about nine was at.
And then you get breakfast and you're really starving. Yeah, I was. Yeah.
And then you'd get allocated your chores for to be anything from washing windows, the mound, a lawn, or picking Marceaux of the dress and making gala anything, putting up wallpaper when you have a clue how to paint really could be a job for you to be.
No TV, no radio, the only music. You listen to Christian music and you may watch like some Hachigian DVDs and read their books on YouTube.
So you have no idea of news.
This isolation's sometimes got to them and on occasion prompted a return of the old Helen, rather the ones I knew before they joined the Harry Christmas.
So some days we just take the rowboat and we would roll around and we found, if you recall, a couple of miles up the lake and get out of the boat, you find a Garita musical Chavanel and Crisps and Chocolate because you ain't allowed that stuff.
And we gorge on it and then come back with that. We'd have missed our classes are searching for and our teachers would be standing on the key waiting for us.
We wrote back so even went on the hop from their classes, but they stuck with the Mastech life on the island and soon lost touch with anyone outside the Hari Krishna movement. We abandoned everyone.
Yeah, we just left them just one day up and moved to the temple and family and.
Yeah, and they were so deeply into it that it scared me sometimes because I knew that they were being swayed to distance themselves from us. It certainly looked like a cult.
Our mother, Sharon, found this particularly difficult to accept. Things like when they went to the island made to get up early. All of that was like a cult.
Like I was always kinda close to my family. But there was a few years where I literally had none to talk to them about. And when he did go home, you just want to talk about what's happening in the temple and about Krishna, but you'd never be interested in what's happening to anybody outside of that. No. The girls left the island after six months. Soon after, Rather formerly devoted her life to Krishna and changed her name from Beral, the name she was christened with to Rodica vendor Govinda, meaning Coward is a name commonly addressed to Krishna whilst Radha was Krishna's most cherished consort.
For the next couple of years, they lived and worked in the Harry Krisna community around Ireland, visiting temples, preaching and selling books. They also both occasionally worked in Govindas, the Harry Christian restaurant in Dublin. They were saving for the next stage of the Harry Krishna life. This was a visit to India in February 2000. Radha and Helen traveled to the holy city of Ridvan, Uttar Pradesh, where the central God of the Hari Krishna movement, the flute playing Lord Krishna, is supposed to have spent his childhood.
It was really colorful, but it was really different, and I was so homesick for the first two weeks, I think if I wasn't crying I wanted to cry.
And I was terrified of cows walking down the road and bulls walking down the road and monkeys everywhere because the monkeys are vicious.
Yet they knew that they were really, really scary and they were quite big.
And then it had gauze and an open sewers. After the initial culture shock, though, the two women really began to enjoy India. People are colorfully dressed, faces the smell of cooking in America. Things like the shops are mad. It's just like a complete open. It's like a room with a complete open and you go and you sit down. They bring you different clothes to try on anything you want to bring it back home.
In Ireland, her mother, Sharon, had her own thoughts on the India trip.
Yeah, I was never really keen on the going to India business because it never seemed to me to be particularly safe, although she told me it was I'm not sure how, but I was very clumsy and I end up falling into the sewer.
Beautiful silk sirene.
I fell in and she fell into open sewer. And I took someone took me to their house to wash up.
And then someone arrived with my stink and dirty sandals into the sewer a few times that, oh, god, I don't know how you can miss it, really, by that. Helen's mother, Marie, wasn't overly delighted. She had gone to India.
Very nervous because she's unhappen. Sure. It's a is a foreign country and two young girls. She was in a temple, so she was all right.
She was in all these women, so she was fine when they first moved to India. Helen Derrida or single, as time went by, they became uneasy about this. In how Christians are now supposed to have a boyfriend, unless your intention is to marry them and some of the younger girls than us were getting married and getting engaged, as in 16 year olds, we were putting pressure even on ourselves because we're thinking, oh, my God, we're getting so well, no one's ever going to want us.
And we just turned 22 in the Hari Krishna community in Vrindavan.
There were strict conventions relating to converting into how Christians, if you want a boyfriend, mostly it's like one of his friends will approach one of your friends and say, this guy is interested in your vice versa. And one of my friends came to me and said she was talking to one of his friends and that he was interested in me. So I didn't know who he was. So I come back from having dinner one day. My friend said, that's him.
And this guy was passing by. He was an Indian guy and he was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen in my life. Like I thought he should be a Calvin Klein model or something. I thought it was that beautiful. I was like, oh, my God, I can't believe he's interested in me. So then she went back to his friend and told me I'm interested in him, too, and she set up a date for us.
And what kind of stuff would you talk about?
We talk about Krishna and the different holy places and about what it was like back in Ireland and the divorce scene in Ireland.
Know your whole life is Krishna and it has been four years. So there's nothing going on externally. When I say it's more than a religion, it's a lifestyle because you stop watching TV, you stop watching movies, don't listen to radio. You're not aware of current affairs or news or anything. So literally, all you do speak about is Christian or what temple you visited that day or things related. And then when you're like, really happy, like, I mean just up to the marriage and you were like, yeah, this guy is amazing.
And no, I thought it was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. But on the first day, like, if I had a had sense, I would have known alarm bells went off because I had my hair in little plats, rather spent like all day one day putting my hair into little plats and looked really cool. And our first day he told me to take to protect because it wasn't a proper hairstyle for Hari Krishna girl, and he'd be judged on my hairstyle.
And I think our second day I had my eyebrow pierced at the time and he told me to take that. I just told me he didn't like it. I'll just take it and take it off and then propose to her.
Nobody I don't know how I got married. He never asked me to marry him and I never asked him to marry me.
I was with Helen, my sister. And I had a man pointed out to her and was told he was interested in her. Oh, my God.
He's stunningly good looking. I can't believe my look. So I let it be known that I was interested. So again, we met up a couple of times, always with people and. Yeah, but in two weeks we were married. What were your early impressions? Again, I my early impressions were I don't know if I thought I think I thought after a couple of meetings, not very good, but it had been known that we were talking and stuff.
So you would get a bad name just for that anyway. So it was just, oh, we just got married.
How are you feeling about getting married?
I say it just happened so quickly. It was just almost. Oh, I suppose we have to get married now because we're not going to stay in India right now. We have to go back and work and you guys are going to come with us. So we just have to get married. So we just got on to a local advocate and he arranged the registry office through the courts that we have our legal marriage. And that morning we woke up and we just put on normal clothes.
We just jumped in a rickshaw, went to the courts, signed the papers. There was no. Do you take so and so it's just you sign here, he signs here. And then Helen and her to be husband were our witnesses. And we were there witnesses. And then we were married within ten minutes. And it's only when people start to say, I was not your husband, you're like, oh, wow, I'm actually married. I'm someone's wife.
It's like, oh, this could be serious, you know, but it takes quite a long time for that to settle. Also in India, everything is like a dream. It's a dream world. So it's only when you come back to Ireland at some stage and then you start to do all the legal stuff and with immigration and stuff, then you understand, oh, this is more serious. You know, we took it very, very lightly.
And we have you in love with. No, I was infatuated with my thought. It was beautiful. And he was a Hari Krishna and he was from India. And I thought, you know, yeah, I thought at the time I was in love. Looking back, I wasn't.
Radha and Helen lived for a number of months in India as married women. And then at the end of 2000, they came back to Ireland, bringing their new husbands with them.
That started getting a bit homesick again. And, you know, we wanted to start our future, which involved coming back to the West and save money so we could go back over because we weren't turning in any money over there. We were living like paupers.
So Helen's parents were there to meet her at the airport.
We walked past them. Initially, one person I didn't recognize her because she was in there say you look beautiful on her. And he was just in Indian rope things that you wear. And, yeah, he was looked very nice anyway.
He was very handsome and I remember just run into him and started crying and just hugging them. And then I was dying for just a potato. Then it like potato and just.
Yeah, and I had it. I don't after about an hour or two, I was ready to go back to India. It was just bored. Everything just seemed great. The roads, the skies, the buildings, the people, just everything at this point. Right. And Helen were both 22. And neither of them had told our families that the two young men with them at the airport where their husbands.
Well, interestingly, I found out Raghavendra was married before I found out I was married.
Claire Hallon sister and I had an absolute rant about Raghavendra being married and how stupid she was to Helen.
And it was only after that I found out they were actually married and I thought she was stupid because she went to India and she came back with a husband. You know, most people come back with a T-shirt or something.
Helen and her husband were living in her parent's house in Loken. She was in her room with our two sisters, our usual room, two sisters. Here's her mother, Marie, and he was in a room by himself because I didn't know Jim and I wasn't having them sleeping together in my house. I just. You are right. And how did you feel when she finally told you that she was married, shocked? Disbelief, the first thing I said was we weren't even at your wedding.
I said we were just wondering yourself, were people my parents like, why don't you be to children's where we didn't get to be at your wedding, is it? And she apologized. I said, oh, my God, I'm not keeping you and your husband apart for three weeks.
So I said I moved him into a room together and I said, no, I never suspected that they were married. This is our mom, Sharon. I thought they were just boyfriend and girlfriend.
And how did you feel that when you found out that she was married for, like, well over a year by the time she told you? Yeah, I was pretty pretty upset that she had made such a big mistake, what was obviously a big, big mistake, and that would take quite a bit of getting out of over the next couple of years.
Helen and ratas live stayed in close parallel, separated only by a couple of months. They each gave birth to daughters at the end of 2001, shortly after each of their marriages finally broke down and the two women both asked their husbands to leave. Then single mothers. They each had less time for the spiritual life and both drifted away from the Harry Krishnas.
To this day, some very stern message. And they still tried to ask me of to festivals and stuff, which is really nice because, you know, they don't want to see people out there because they believe it's bad and their souls are almost lost and stuff. So they're doing their duty. They are doing it out of kindness. So they still do invite you to things was just don't answer.
Do you wish you'd never discover that in hindsight? I do I think she lost her opportunity for an education, she was very bright, Alan was very bright. Who knows what they could have done with their lives. Both had great ability and unfortunately, they chose to become best players in a male oriented cult. Anything else you'd like to add? You know, I think this is honestly like looking back, I mean, it's not a case of you wish you'd never met them or you.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. I think it probably helped her calm down. She was kind of a bad crowd, I'd say, but, you know, when she got older, so, you know, I think I saved a really. But I think they also missed out on a lot of aspects of life that happened in your early 20s, college, first jobs in proper jobs, maybe you work at an office, maybe going out with the girls on a Saturday night dating meet and different men going for a drink.
Yay or nay, don't like them, do like them. And I think, you know, they didn't get to go to to discos, to clubs, to the pubs to experience that side of life. Yes, it gave them some life experience, they got their children out of it, wonderful, but I also think they missed out on a whole other side of life for years.
I couldn't understand how Rod and Helen could devote their lives to religion, particularly one that, at least from the outside, seems so restrictive, especially for women. But it's clear now that the Harry Krishnas, as with many faiths, provided them with a sense of community and belonging. This was their tribe, and it also seemed to offer answers to some of life's bigger, more mysterious questions. And obviously this is very appealing, especially for two teenagers trying to find their place in the world.
And your two daughters are what age?
Now, if they both arrived home today and said, we've just joined Harry Krisha's and we really love it. What would you think they would take to preserve?
Yeah, because they are say I try not to. I now have more sense yet about never ever gone to Radha and Helen are now both 42 and work together as carers.
Neither of them have remarried and each have added one more child to their family.
Although they both look back fondly on their lives as Hari Krishnas, neither of them have returned to the Harry Christian life yet.
Do you think it ever could go back to 100 percent? I will definitely go back and live in India six months out of the year in front of and hopefully I'm get deeply into it here when I can, when my kids are grown up.
Definitely, I love. I'm not so sure if I would want to get fully involved in it again.
I definitely would like to go on stage in front of him for some time. I guess then I would probably get back into. You've been listening to the deadly series from the documentary on one, the narrator was Nathan Walsh and the program was produced by Nathan Andron and Kelly. And as I mentioned, you can look at photos from the documentary on our Web page or to EdTech for it's stuck on one. Until next time, thanks for listening.