Delhi revels in the spirit of Janmashtami

August 22nd, 2011 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Fasting, feasting, prayers, music, chanting of mantras, ‘matki phods (breaking the ritual pots)’ and story-telling sessions recounting the myths associated with Krishna’s birth marked Janmashtami Monday in the capital.

The hub of festivities was the Iskcon Temple in south Delhi where the Krishna Bhakts (priests and members of the order) sang “bhajans (devotional songs)” and chanted “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna” since morning as tens of thousands of devotees poured in to pray to Krishna and his consort Radha.

By evening Monday, the parking spaces outside the temple were full and a posse of securitymen was at hand to guard the temple. A spokesperson for the temple said that the crowd will peak at midnight when those fasting in honour of the deity will break their fast and visit the shrine to pray.

The road from Lajpat Nagar towards Okhla was blocked with traffic and people making their way to the Iskcon temple.

“One of the attractions of the Iskcon temple is the special prasadam,” the spokesperson said.

“Panjiri and panchamrit” — two milk-based delicacies — are the two most common “prasadam (prayer fare)”.

Security was also tight at the Laxmi Narayan Temple where the police have stipulated separate entry and exits to manage the crowd.

The temple was abuzz with activity since morning with devotees trickling in to offer prayers. By evening, the premises were packed.

The smaller temples in west, east and south Delhi also drew large crowds for evening prayers.

The markets fetched brisk business with revellers lining up shops for sweetmeats. Earlier in the day, young men took part in the matka phod - a ritual breaking of earthenware pots filled with buttermilk - to celebrate the deity’s love for butter and milk, which he often stole from overhanging pots by an ingenious method of building human pyramids.

Around evening, several housing societies in the capital organised “kirtans” - discourses sung by groups of men and women - to the beat of drums and children enacted episodes from the life of Krishna.

Krishna is Hinduism’s most popular deity around whom a pantheon of folklore and legends have built over the centuries.

According to scriptures, Krishna, the prince of Mathura-Vrindavan, who later ruled Dwarka in Gujarat, was born on the day in prison to Vasudev and Devaki. The eighth child of the couple, Krishna was smuggled out by his father on a stormy night soon after he was born and left in the care of Yashoda.

A naughty child, he is associated with the “raas (playfulness)”, music, slaying of demons and the Bhagvad Gita, which is made of the sermons that he delivered on the battle ground at Kurukshetra in the epic Mahabharata to inspire Pandava prince Arjuna, who was reluctant to fight against his relatives.

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