India was ablaze with festive fervor as Janmashtami, the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth, resonated across the nation on Thursday. With Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, at the heart of the festivities, thousands of devotees thronged major temples to mark the occasion.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his warm greetings, wishing for renewed energy and enthusiasm in the lives of “every member of my family,” referring to the citizens of India. He exclaimed, “Jai Shri Krishna” in a post on X, encapsulating the spirit of the occasion.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah embarked on a visit to the ISKCON temple in East of Kailash, South Delhi, to perform a sacred pooja, underscoring the importance of this revered festival.
Janmashtami, a festival that commemorates the birth of Lord Krishna, witnessed grand ceremonies across the country. At temples like Radha Raman, Radha Damodar, and Gokulanand in Mathura, thousands of devotees participated in the “abhishek” (bathing of the deity) ceremony, following a tradition established by the venerable seer Jeev Goshwami nearly 500 years ago. This unique tradition contrasts with the typical midnight celebrations observed elsewhere.
Similarly, at the Shahji temple in Vrindavan, festivities unfolded in the morning, mirroring the customs of the Radha Raman temple. Srikrishna Janmabhumi commenced its day with the harmonious sounds of shehnai, conch shells, and drums, followed by the “abhishek” of the deity and the distribution of “charnamrit” among the devotees.
The streets of Mathura reverberated with devotion as a procession led by dignitaries, including Shailjakant Mishra, Vice-President of the Uttar Pradesh Vraj Tirth Vikas Parishad, state ministers, and district officials, wound its way through the city. Janmashtami also radiated its joy in Dwarkadhish temple, Vrindavan, Govardhan, and Nandgaon.
Bimalendra Mishra, a visitor from Lakhimpur Kheri, shared his experience, expressing, “It is invigorating to witness the Janmashtami celebrations in Mathura. One cannot experience this anywhere else.” The festivities also drew international participants, with foreign devotees paying homage at ISKCON and Radha Damodar temples in Vrindavan.
In an effort to prevent overcrowding and ensure safety, the Mathura district administration decided to restrict the number of devotees inside the Bankey Bihari temple. During the “mangala aarti” scheduled post-midnight, only 500 devotees, including temple acharyas, will be allowed entry on a first-come-first-serve basis. This decision follows a tragic stampede incident during last year’s Janmashtami celebrations.
In Mumbai, the spirit of Janmashtami found expression in the Dahi Handi celebrations. This traditional festival involves forming multi-tiered human pyramids to break earthen pots filled with curd suspended in the air. However, the fervor occasionally led to injuries, with at least 35 “Govindas” sustaining injuries, some requiring hospitalization. The BMC made arrangements at civic-run hospitals to treat injured participants.
Delhi’s Janmashtami celebrations incorporated the theme of the upcoming G20 summit in the national capital – “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the entire world is one family). Union Minister Smriti Irani and BJP General Secretary B L Santhosh were part of the festivities.
From Punjab and Haryana to Kashmir and Jammu, Janmashtami was observed with great enthusiasm. Temples were beautifully decorated, and devotees participated in bhajans and discourses on Lord Krishna. Even Kashmiri Pandits took part in a Janmashtami procession in Srinagar, reviving a tradition that had waned since 1989. In Ganderbal district, a “shobhayatra” was taken out after 34 years.
The Ragunath and ISKCON temples in the Jammu region experienced an influx of devotees. ISKCON’s Krishna Arvind Das noted that preparations for the festival had begun two months in advance. “Nandotsav” is slated for Friday.