Sri Krishna Janmashtami – The Day of Divine Celebrations

By Atmarama Bhakta Dasa

There is a saying in Sanskrit, ‘Utsava priya manavah’ – people are fond of festivals.

Festivals are celebrated on occasions ranging from folklore celebrations, community values and religious events. They are catalysts in increasing positivity in society and bringing freshness to life. It is a source of rejuvenation and community building too. The supreme abode of Lord Krishna, Goloka Vrindavana, is described as a place where every word is a song, every step is a dance and every day is a festival. Festivals are also ways to remember and cherish the Supreme Lord’s glories in our lives. Srila Prabhupada encouraged his followers, ‘Observe many festivals. That will keep both public and devotees alive. Temple means festivals’. He also said, ‘It is the Vedic system to observe all kinds of festivals.’ These occasions provide an opportunity for people to come closer to God by having darshan of His beautifully decorated form as archa-murti, hearing His holy names and pastimes through blissful kirtans and tasting the delicious prasadam. These festivals were held even before the iconic Sri Radha Krishna Temple was inaugurated on Hare Krishna Hill in 1997.

The devotees of ISKCON Bangalore, following the words of their Spiritual Master, have been holding festivals on a grand scale in the city for four decades. Some of them recall that the first big festival was held in Chowdiah Memorial Hall in 1984 on Sri Krishna Janmashtami. It was celebrated with a special drama performance, spiritual discourse, arati, kirtans and delicious prasadam. A thousand people attended the programme and took home beautiful memories to be cherished for a lifetime. This event announced the establishment of ISKCON in the city. Over the years, similar festival celebrations have become one of the biggest hallmarks of ISKCON Bangalore.

The cooling monsoon is welcome in India after the hot summer season. For devotees, the arrival of the monsoon marks the beginning of a string of festivals like Jhulan Utsava, Balaram Jayanti and Janmashtami. On the Hare Krishna Hill, devotees enthusiastically plan the festival programmes months so that lakhs of visitors and pilgrims will be able to have a pleasant experience of worshipping the Lord on these auspicious days.  Several festivals are observed in the temple in accordance with the Vedic traditions, and Sri Krishna Janmashtami is the grandest of all.

The Sri Krishna Janmashtami festival has evolved with the introduction of many new sevas, and it is celebrated across various places in Bangalore.

This year, due to the pandemic, the temple made arrangements for Janmashtami event to go live on YouTube. The festival was celebrated with great fervour, and various sevas were offered for the pleasure of Their Lordships Sri Radha Krishnachandra. Lakhs of devotees from across the world watched the programme from the safety of their homes.

On this day, the Deities were offered Nauka Vihara seva (A blissful boat ride) in the kalyani (temple pond) and special naivedya consisting of 108 items. Melodious kirtans and bhajans were performed throughout the day for the pleasure of the Lord. Apart from this, various programmes for children were arranged during the Janmashtami season. Competitions like Heritage Fest for school students were held to give them a platform to showcase their artistic talents. There was a Krishna Costume Contest, where the parents were encouraged to dress their tots as baby Krishna or Radha and post their pictures online. During the abhishekhas, Sri Radha Krishnachandra were showered with panchagavya, panchamrita, fruit juices, holy substances and flowers. The programme culminated with a spectacular midnight arati.

The day following Janmashtami was the most auspicious festival of Vyasa Puja, the appearance day of the spiritual master. This year, the followers of Srila Prabhupada celebrated the historic occasion of his 125th  birth anniversary. Devotees performed an elaborate abhisheka and offered their homages. After Guru Puja, the event ended with a sumptuous prasadam feast.

In this way, ISKCON-Bangalore’s festivals have captured the imagination of everyone and have given them unforgettable spiritual experiences.

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