Rainfall doesn’t dampen spirits at Janmashtami celebrations
As a sprinkle of rain, then a downpour, fell over the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn on Aug. 15, a dedicated group of children and young adults continued their performance on the outdoor stage set up in front of the Family Activity Center. They were determined to keep the show going as they enacted the life and glory of Lord Krishna through the musical “Krishna Leela,” while part of the crowd scattered to seek cover on the mandir grounds.
“On this day, thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna was born with a promise that he would rid the world of evil and instill goodness within us,” said Hari C. Patel, 16, of Lawrenceville, who performed in the program. Yogin Patel, 15, of Cartersville, added, “Our performance was a way for us to show our devotion toward him. There was no way we would let the rain put a damper on our enthusiasm.”
Hundreds had gathered from around the Atlanta area during the auspicious weekend, which marked the birthday of Lord Krishna as well as India’s Independence Day. The “Krishna Leela” performance was one facet of the Janmashtami celebration, which ended with a full-fledged samaiyo on Sunday, Aug. 16, 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, he 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,” Baker said.
Lord Krishna was born 5,000 years ago in the small town of Mathura in Northern India. Among his most important contributions to mankind is the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu scripture wherein Lord Krishna reveals the path of self-realization to his staunchest disciple, Arjuna.
“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 Independence Day on August 15. The Mandir glowed in shades of green, white and orange, symbolizing the Indian flag.
“Gokul-Dham,” Pushtimargiya Vaishnav Samaj
Children perform, scramble for goodies in Matki breaking festivities
Children, like a bunch of Bal Krishnas, scrambling for the contents of the matki.
More than 800 people attended a celebration of Janmashtami on the evening of Aug. 16 at Gujarati Samaj Hall in Tucker, GA. The event was organized by “Gokul-Dham,” Pushtimargiya Vaishnav Samaj of Southeast USA, Inc.
Children and adults sang Mangalacharan, Yamaunashtak, Sarvottam, Krishnashray and Bhagavad-Gita Shlok, along with various prayers for worshipping Lord Krishna, Shri Yamunaji and Shri Vallabhacharaji.
The prayers were followed by Vachanmrut blessings via video from Shree Dwarkeshlalji Maharajshree. Explaining the importance of the Janmashtami celebration, he assured the audience that Lord Krishna’s presence could be felt wherever there is a Janmashtami celebration. He congratulated “Gokul-Dham” for their second Janmashtami celebration and welcomed Lord Krishna’s arrival.
More than 30 children performed “Shri Bal Saraswati Pushti Sankul,” inspired and guided by Shri Dwarkeshlalji Maharjshree. They had spent two months preparing for the evening performance. They sang and danced in the true spirit of “Nand Utsav.”
In addition to songs, there was also a skit to test the children’s knowledge of Janmashtami. The biggest attraction of the evening was “Matki Phod” (breaking the earthen pot hanging from ceiling). Kids climbed on each other to get to the contents of ‘Matki’ – chocolates. As soon as “Matki” was reached, all the kids grabbed the chocolates.
Chanting “Nand Gher Anand Bhayo Jai Kaniya Lal Ki,” the whole Guajarati Samaj Hall came alive in a spontaneous ‘Garba’ celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna. The combination of musical instruments, chants and joyful faces created an atmosphere that gave a glimpse of Lord Krishna’s birth celebration in Mathura, India. Mahaprasad was served after the ‘Aarti.‘
The purpose of “Gokul-Dham” is to preserve the Pushtimargiya (The Path of Grace) way of life (founded by Shri Vallabhacharya), celebrate the religious event and pass on the teachings and religion to upcoming generations.
It was Subodhbhai Shah’s vision to collectively gather Vaishnavs in the Southeast and to ultimately build Haveli for Shreenathji. “Gokul-Dham” was inspired & guided by Shree Dwarkeshlalji Maharajshree. Today more than 20 young professional and business owners are involved in making this dream a reality.
The “Gokul-Dham” committee has appealed to the Vaishnavs of the Southeast and to Hindus to support this growing organization and help build the Haveli, so that all Vaishnavs can have a common place to worship Shreenathji and conduct various cultural activities. For more information, call Tejas Patwa at (770) 921-1466 or Harshadbhai Shah at (678) 560 0870. You may also visit www.gokuldham.org
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