Janmashtami celebrated with fervour in India and abroad (Lead)

August 24th, 2008 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) Millions of Hindus in India and abroad Sunday celebrated Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu gods, with visits to ornately decorated temples, prayers, devotional songs and preparing special sweets.The day started with people thronging Krishna temples, with offerings of flowers and sweets.

Temples wore a festive look, bedecked with flowers and illuminated by lamps. Several places of worship also had floats depicting scenes from Krishna’s childhood.

As ever, the maximum rush of devotees was at Mathura, the lord’s birthplace, some 135 km south of New Delhi.

Mathura had pilgrims coming from all over the country. Temples in the holy city were richly decorated and sweets were distributed to everyone. The idols were decorated with new silken garments and ornaments.

“To ensure proper glimpse of the deity during the ‘abhishek’ (oblation ritual), a wooden platform has been raised at the entrance of the temple,” Sri Krishna Janmasthan secretary Kapil Sharma said.

In Delhi, thousands of devotees thronged the Birla Mandir, the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temple and the Chattarpur temple to pay obeisance to Lord Krishna.

The maximum rush at temples is towards midnight, when Krishna is believed to have been born.

“We are expecting over 50,000 devotees to visit the temple during the night. Our focus is to make devotees dance and sing on Krishna’s birthday,” said Bhajan Niranjan Das, communication in-charge of ISKCON. “The day started with panchamrit abhishekam (bathing the idol in milk, curd, Ganga water, honey and ghee),” he said.

Celebrations were on in many Hindu homes with people fasting and preparing delicacies to offer to the lord.

The birth of Krishna was also depicted in many homes using clay dolls - his birth inside the jail, his father Vasudeva escaping with Krishna across a turbulent Yamuna to the safety of Gokul, his merrymaking with friends as ‘Makhan Chor’ (stealing butter), and the slaying of Kamsa, his evil uncle.

The famed 16th century Dwarkadhish (Lord of Dwarka) temple in Gujarat is all decked up to celebrate the 5,235th birth anniversary of Lord Krishna.

Dwarka in Jamnagar district is a famous yatra dham (pilgrimage site) for Hindus all over the world and thousands of devotees are visiting the temple on Janmashtami.

The grand celebrations of Lord Dwarkadhish are being telecast live from 11.30 p.m. to 12.30 a.m. to enable viewers witness the festivities.

The dahi-handi celebrations in Mumbai in Maharastra are the special attraction, where several professional ‘govindas’ (young boys who dress as friends of Krishna) compete to break the pots of butter milk hung high.

In the south, ardent devotees thronged Krishna temples since early Sunday morning.

In Kerala, the biggest rush was seen at the famed Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayoor, with people queuing up from the early hours of the morning. The temple conducted special prayers and rituals.

Hindu organisations across Kerala held processions with children dressed as Sri Krishna and Radha. Mythological stories about Krishna were also enacted at several places.

Another event being held is ‘uriyadi’ where children break pots of butter milk - something Krishan is believed to have loved.

The mood was festive in most Hindu households, with traditional sweets like appam and palpayasam being prepared. Patterns of small feet are drawn with rice flour, leading from the entrance of houses to the prayer rooms, symbolising baby Krishna coming to his devotees’ homes to bless them.

The festival was celebrated with great fervour in many foreign countries too.

In Trinidad and Tobago, several Hindu devotees offered prayers and chanted sacred mantras on the occasion of Lord Krishna’s birthday.

Each devotee was armed with the Gita and sang bhajans (devotional songs) to Lord Krishna.

In Trinidad and Tobago, 25 percent of the 1.3 million population comprises Hindus.

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