Janmashtami celebrated with traditional fervour

By Indo Asian News Service | Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | 4:16:25 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

New Delhi/Kolkata, Aug 28 (IANS) Devotees of Lord Krishna Wednesday bathed baby Krishna idols in milk and honey, while enthusiastic followers formed human pyramids to break "dahi handis", as they celebrated Janmashtami, the 5,239th birthday of one of Lord Vishnu's avatars.

New Delhi/Kolkata, Aug 28 (IANS) Devotees of Lord Krishna Wednesday bathed baby Krishna idols in milk and honey, while enthusiastic followers formed human pyramids to break "dahi handis", as they celebrated Janmashtami, the 5,239th birthday of one of Lord Vishnu's avatars.

Men, women and children of all ages, unperturbed by the humid weather, prayed at brightly decked-up temples, decorated with banana leaves, flowers and colourful fancy lights.

In the national capital, hundreds of people turned up at Birla Mandir, Iskcon and Gouri Shankar temples.

In Kolkata, artistically-crafted tableaux by the Marwari, Gujarati and Bihari communities depicted the infant form of Krishna, while a giant "jhoola" (swing) with baby Krishna put up by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) in the city, drew thousands of visitors.

"It's a ritual for our family to visit the temple early morning after the 'mangla arti' to seek Krishna's blessings on this auspicious day," said 42-year-old Vishal Seekri, who prayed at the Birla Mandir in Delhi along with his family.

Children dressed up as Lord Krishna, with flutes in hand and a peacock feather stuck in their headbands.

Ravindra Nagar, head priest of Birla Mandir, told IANS that the temple was expecting around five lakh devotees during the day.

"Panjiri" and "panchamrit" -- two milk-based delicacies -- and fresh fruit were the most common "prasad".

Temple priests said festivities peak near midnight when Krishna is believed to have been born.

At midnight, priests will perform the "Mahabhishekha" ritual of pouring water and milk over the deity while the sounds of conches and bells fill the air.

In the morning, people bathed baby Krishna idols in milk, curd, water from the Ganga, honey and ghee before placing them in cradles.

"I bathed the idol of baby Krishna and dressed it in a colourful attire and a gold-plated crown at midnight," said Sunil Patel, a resident of south Delhi's Defence Colony.

Markets did brisk business as people shopped for sweets, flowers, milk and curd to be offered at temples.

Youngsters took part in "matka phod" - a ritual breaking of earthenware pots filled with buttermilk - to celebrate the deity's love for butter and milk, which he often stole from overhanging pots by an ingenious method of building human pyramids.

Kolkata celebrated Janmashtami through idol worship, dance-dramas and "satsangs" (religious gatherings).

"Ours is a joint family of 22 members, and every year we make elaborate 'jhaankis'," said Vinay Shroff, a Marwari businessman.

Devotees, with foreheads smeared in vermilion, greeted each other with the customary "Hare Krishna".

Delicious vegetarian fare like "khichdi", daal and pooris were on everybody's platter.

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