Sri Krishna Janmastami in New York- a transcendental celebration
Posted August 27, 2003
Close to 1000 devotees made the pilgrimage to Sri Sri Radha Govinda Mandir to celebrate the transcendental Appearance Day of Lord Sri Krishna. It was a fun-filled, exciting festival that began at 4:30am with a special Mangala-Arati darshan and kirtan.
At 7:30am, Sri Sri Radha Govinda were offered a brand new dress which was sponsored by Rajesh Gulab, a congregation devotee, and his family. The dress was a fall-themed dress with clusters of red sequin leaves and gold trim. After the darshan, the Deities of Sri Sri Radha Krishna were placed on their swing, for a special daytime Jhulan Yatra program. All day long, devotees chanted and read from the Krishna Book, as well as making many food preparations which were offered to the Deities every hour. Darshan in the new dress continued until 4:30pm, after which the curtains closed and the pujaris dressed Sri Sri Radha Govinda in another new dress.
At 7:00pm Sri Sri Radha Govinda were revealed in a stunning new flower dress. This dress featured 150 fragrant gardenia flowers, and other varieties of naturally fragrant flowers. This was the best designed dress offered to Sri Sri Radha Govinda in many, many years, and was designed by Vrinda dasi prabhu, wife of writer Satyaraja das prabhu, as well as another longtime New York devotee, Caturvyuha das prabhu, with the help of about 20 volunteers. This flower dress offering is by far the most famous part of the Janmastami festival, and is well known to Krishna devotees all over the New York metropolitan area.
The kirtana accompanying the 7pm arati went on for one hour, and was followed by traditional cultural performances of Bharat Natyam dance and a drama, entitled "Krishna and Sudama", by the New Vaikuntha players.
The excited devotees then performed the second annual Golden Kalash Maha-Abhiseka. More than 50 sponsors took the chance to assist the pujaris in the bathing ceremony of Sri Sri Radha Krishna. With their kind donations, the temple will be able to take up some needed building maintenance projects: installing a new temple room floor, purchasing a new air conditioning and heating unit, and completing the exterior wall rehabilitation.
After the Abhiseka, the competitive auction of Sri Sri Radha Govinda's mahaprasad took place, to the delight of the devotees. Devotees bid on and purchased many items which had been used in the decoration and dressing of Sri Sri Radha Govinda over the years, including the just-worn flower dress, Deity crowns, ankle bells and a silver flute which had been used by Sri Sri Radha Madhava at the ISKCON Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. Also, the midnight bhoga offering -- of close to 100 items -- and a chance to offer midnight Arati from the temple floor to Sri Sri Radha Govinda were sold to the highest bidder. The proceeds from this auction will also be used to cover some of the costs for the new temple floor.
The Midnight Arati began a little later than 12:15am, and was the best part of the whole festival. The hundreds of devotees who stayed till the end pushed their way forward for a glimpse of the Deities in their new night outfit, which was sponsored by Padmini Itwaru and her family. The Deities shone in Their new pink and green silk dress, covered with very fragrant flowers.
After the kirtan, everyone partook in a magnificent feast of potato salad, paneer subji, plantain halavah, coconut burfi, and a nectar made of chilled rose syrup and milk. The feast was sponsored by Pijush Saha and his family, and was lovingly made by Srikanta das prabhu and his team of kitchen volunteers. All in all, this festival was a sight to behold, as many devotees came together to celebrate the Appearance of the Lord. Many books were distributed, and prasadam was fed to hundreds of devotees all evening long.
Please visit the NY temple
website for some photos of this transcendental festival, and a report of
Srila Prabhupada's Vyasa Puja.