Krishna’s presence mitigates all miseries and increases inner bliss. Krishna had appeared in this world to re-establish religious principles and to give his personal association to His dear devotees. Janmashtami is one of the most celebrated and eagerly awaited festivals for all the devotees of Krishna. The great Vaisnava saint, Srila Prabhupada, established hundreds of temples in each part of the globe. And in India he built the first ISKCON temple in Kolkata and here he personally installed the beautiful deity of Radha and Krishna. When someone asked him how Krishna looks like, he said, “Go and see Sri Sri Radha Govindaji at 3C Albert Road temple, Krishna looks like that”.
Janmashtami is observed with lots of enthusiasm at ISKCON Kolkata. The festival is always accompanied with pomp and gaiety. On this day, Sri Sri Radha Govindaji was beautifully and colourfully decorated, a new dress was also offered to the Lord. Kirtan and Krishna katha continued throughout the day. Several volunteers – young and old, men and women – were actively participating and were trying their best to make it a grand event. Devotees had observed complete fast on this day. Since morning scores of people were thronging to the temple to take a glimpse of the Lord. Delicious sweet sabudana prasad was given to all who came.
One of the best ways to celebrate Janmashtami is to hear a lot about Krishna. Because the more we hear about Him the more we will know Him, the more we know Him the more we will like Him and the more we like Him we will develop an intense desire to love and serve Him. Three hours Bhagavatam class was organized from 9 a.m. – 12 noon so that people could know about Krishna’s different attributes and His life transforming messages. Senior brahmacharis (celibate monks) spoke elaborately about Krishna’s beautiful pastimes, His Gita messages and they also cogently explained how to perform duties by keeping Krishna in the centre.
The evening hours were packed with cultural programs, dramas, katha, kirtan and grand abhishek. A huge waterproof pandal was erected to make sure that rain does not dampen the festive atmosphere. Replica of forest groves of Vrindavan and govardhan hill was recreated on the main stage. A grand and beautiful looking deity of Krishna and Balarama was placed on the podium.
HG Ananga Mohan Prabhu and HG Acharya Ratan Prabhu spoke in Bengali and English respectively about Krishna’s various memorable pastimes and the importance of celebrating this great festival. A beautiful drama “God of gods” was performed by Iskcon Youth Forum members. Through drama it was established that Krishna is in fact the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all other demigods like Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma are subservient to Him.
The bathing ceremony (abhishek) of Radha and Krishna was performed elaborately using milk, Ganges water, coconut water, fruit juices and colourful flowers. Devotees who had booked their kalash were given an opportunity to perform abhishek of the Lord. At midnight 12, a magnificent maha arati of the Lord ensued which was accompanied by dancing kirtan. Devotees broke their fast after 12 by drinking caranamrita. Special sumptuous Krishna prasad was arranged for all.
On the Janmashtami day, in Kolkata there was taxi strike and in the night there was heavy rain but the devotees of Krishna braved all the hardships and came together in thousands to observe the appearance day/ birthday of Krishna.
The entire atmosphere was magical, the spirit was high and everyone happily sang and swayed to the tunes of Hare Krishna Mahamantra.