Day After the Night Before
Posted September 6, 2005
For pictures of the Utah Janmastami celebration go to the web site, http://www.utahkrishnas.com/gallery/festivals/Janmastami.
This year's festival was record breaking, not only for the number of people who came, and the donations offered in kalasha sponsorships, but in terms of enthusiasm. I noted that never before in Utah history has the chanting been so thunderous as out on the verandah doing pradakshina with the Ratha (Chariot). We were all delighted with taking the new hand carved 12 foot high Ratha on her maiden voyage, and with Radha, Krishna seated there for the first time. Getting out of the temple room, still on the temple premises, but on the acoustically friendly verandah, sparked the best kirtan I ever experienced in Utah.
We had the kirtan & Ratha yatra right in the beginning of the evening, about
8:30 pm, so as our crowd of about 50/50 Indians/Westerners was arriving by
car, they couldn't wait to jump out and run to join the kirtan party. It was
so mystical and infectious even first time comers were chanting like
seasoned devotees within minutes. The Indians, who can be very sedate about
their chanting in the temple room, unleashed a torrent of singing and
dancing out on the verandah.
After three circuits of the temple, Radha and Krishna stopped their chariot to watch the 'Govinda Ala Re'. Lots of young college students had been organized by Manoj for the forming of the human pyramid and breaking the matki (clay pot) filled with yogurt and butter suspended high in the air. Krishna Himself used to do this 5,300 years ago in Gokula Vrndavan. He would organize his mates to climb on each other's shoulders, making a stepping way for Krishna to ascend with a stick to the level of the pot. Krishna would smash the pot with his stick. Those below would catch the falling diary products, and lustily consume them.
After these wonderful early activities people were primed to appreciate
the artful Krishna dances inside the temple room,. Divya Bhaskar, Gayatri
Jayaraman, Neda, and Riti Patel were all applauded loudly for their
Yet nothing was better received or enjoyed than the Krishna birth
musical. Using Parividha's excellent sound track, we have, for the last
three Janmastamis, presented the musical of Krishna's birth. Vasudeva,
Devaki, Narada Muni, Durga, and Putana sing their parts. Except for Tyler
and Brook, who did great jobs playing Vasudev and Devaki for the first time
this year, everyone was a veteran of this drama, having honed their parts to
perfection during previous years. Divya Drsti was so powerful as Durga.
Vishnu Priya makes people split their sides laughing with her rendition of
Putana. Sydhartha Manna as Naradaji is cunning and conniving. And Kamsa gets
nobody's sympathy. It is a great drama just suitable for this great
occasion. All glories to Paravidha, who has given this and many more
The finale of the evening was the same as at every ISKCON center worldwide.
The members proceeded forward with their family members to reverently bathe
the Utasva Deity with panchamrta. The priest held the bathing conch while
sonorously chanting Sanskrit slokas. Kirtan and bhajans went on
simultaneously. From 11:59 hundreds of voices in the darkened temple room
counted down last 60 seconds to midnight,. Dramatically the Deity doors
opened in blazing light to the cheers, blowing of conches, banging of gongs,
and showering of flower petals. A wonderful arati, and finally feasting
downstairs for all the nice devotees of the beautiful Lord.