This article, "Krishna 'Ho Ho'ers' don Santa's breeches" was published in Journal and Courier, December 23, 1975, in Lafayette, Indiana.
SAN ANTONIO, Tex. (AP) - Members of a Hare Krishna group have traded in saffron robes for Santa Claus suits and are passing out candy canes and shouting "Ho, Ho, Ho" to try to raise money for their cause.
The followers of Hare Krishna, a religious movement with roots in India, generally shave their heads except for a top-knot, wear flowing robes and slowly chant the praises of their Lord, Krishna.
This Christmas, six of them have hidden their shaved skulls under Santa caps as they pass out candy canes to occupants of cars backed up at a stop light in busy north San Antonio, Drivers are asked for donation of $1 each and are given a candy cane and a book on Hare Krishna whether they contribute or not.
"Dressing up as Santa Claus, people can relate to us," says Jyotir Das, of Houston, who took his name when be joined the sect. "Sometimes they have a difficult time relating to us with our bald heads and thing like that."
"Christmas is a time of loving; of sharing what we have. And the most valuable thing we have is to give part of ourselves ... and we try to share Krishna."
Many of the motorists want nothing to do with Krishna and the police have received many complaints and inquiries about the Santas.
"A lot of them have a hard day at work," says one Santa. "There's always hide problems. Sometimes they call us names and ignore us, but you know, it's all part of life. We try to understand."
The side walk Santas, who have a permit say they are collecting enough money to pay for printing their literature and the candy canes - which they say are special.
"It's all sanctified," one Santa says of the candy. "It's offered to the Lord first. Just by eating it you become purified."
Photo: Hare Krishna Santa Claus: Jyotir Das, a Hare Krishna disciple, is one of six devotees in San Antonio, who are stopping motorists, giving them a candy cane and asking for a $1 donation during the Christmas season. (AP Wirephoto)