BY RAVI R. PONANGI
Hindu Temples, shrines and community centers in Atlanta wore festive looks on the eve of Janmashtami, a celebration of remembering the birth of Lord Shri Krishna, one of the greatest enlightened Masters of the universe. The Hindu temple of Atlanta, Riverdale and the Atlanta Hare Krishna (ISKON) temple celebrated Janmashtami on August 13. BAPS Sri Swaminarayan mandir, Shree Shakti Mandir, Shiv Mandir, Radha Madhav Society and Sanatan Mandir organized both spiritual and cultural programs marking the birth anniversary of Lord Sri Krishna from August 14 to 16. Events were marked with traditional prayers, bhajans and discourses in the daytime followed by colorful cultural presentations in the evening.
Sri Gopeshji, an eloquent speaker of Shrimad Bhagavatam from Vrindavan, India who is only in his teens, delivered discourses on Sri Krishna and Shrimad Bhagavatam at the Shree Shakti mandir and Sanatan mandir from Aug 14 to 16. Devotees thronged to these worship places in large number.
Dahi-Handi was celebrated by devotees at the Shree Shakti mandir through the reenactment of breaking clay pots filled with curd and butter erected high above the ground. The devotees formed a human pyramid to reach the pot and break it. This custom follows the habit of Lord Krishna who used to steal butter in this manner from villagers along with his friends. The festival is thus celebrated with great joy and communal togetherness by one and all.
Krishna Janmashtami, an important festival in the Hindu calendar, celebrates the birth of Shri Krishna and is known by various names such as Shri Krishna Jayanti, Janmashtami and Gokulashtami. Observed on the eighth day or Ashtami tithi of the dark half in the month of Shravana, Krishna Janmashtami generally falls between mid-August and mid-September on the eighth day of Rohini nakshatra (star). This year’s Janmashtami was on August 13 in USA. Devotees observe fast for the entire day that is broken after the birth of the Lord at midnight.
The altars Madana Mohan, Radha Rani, and other deities at the Atlanta Hare Krishna temple were colorfully decorated with a wide range of fruits and flowers to reflect the real ‘Vrindavan.’ The deities were dressed in blue costumes with sparkling ‘zari’ work that kept the crowd mesmerized. Sri Vedasara, president of the Atlanta Hare Krishna temple, oversaw the conducting of the ceremonies associated with Janmashtami rituals. Rituals included abhishekam to deities and midnight arathi. Elaborate arrangements were made on the occasion at the temple where devotees swung the idol of Krishna placed on a decorated cradle.
Early morning Abhishekam was also performed to Lord Krishna at the Hindu temple. Temple priests performed Sri Krishna moola mantra homam in the presence of devotees on August 13. The Radha Madhav society, in association with Shiv mandir, organized an impressive Janmashtami celebration on August 14 at the Global Mall’s Impact Center in the presence of Didi Siddheswari Deviji. Programs at the Global Mall included Bhajans, a cultural program, Bhagavatam Leela by Kumud Savla, Abhishekam and a discourse on Janmashtami by Didiji.
Janmashtami and Patotsav marking the 2nd Anniversary of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Lilburn was held in a grand manner. The highlight of the celebration was a musical drama Krishna Lila enacted about the life and glory of Lord Krishna. Youth volunteers performed the musical play. Other programs included lighting of the mandir in the colors of the Indian Flag for Independence Day and the Samaiyo.
Hundreds had gathered from around the Atlanta area during this auspicious weekend. Samaiyo on Sunday was filled with devotional songs, cultural dances, and spiritual discourses. Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker attended the festival with his wife Catherine. Speaking to the attendees, the Attorney General marveled at the beauty of the Mandir complex. “This is not just a place of worship, it is also a place where one can come to educate themselves,” said Baker.
“Celebrating Janmashtami gives us an opportunity to learn about the essence of the Bhagavad Gita,” explained Pujya Shantmurti Swami, a BAPS sadhu. “We can learn how to live a life full of devotion and ethics.”
Along with the Janmashtami celebrations, followers also commemorated India’s In-dependence Day on August 15. The Mandir glowed in shades of green, white and orange symbolic of the colors of the Indian flag.
BAPs devotees engrossed watching krishna Lila on temple open grounds
Ksheerabhishekam to little Krishna at Shree Shakti Mandir