Every Hindu festival is an occasion of distinctive and meaningful celebration across India and beyond. Janmashtami, the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Shri Krishna, one of the most venerated incarnations in Hinduism, is celebrated in a traditional manner at BAPS Mandirs throughout North America. Sunday, September 5, 2010, marked the day of the celebration which saw great excitement and devotion as devotees gathered for an evening of bhajans, inspirational discourses by sadhus, and skits and folk dances performed by children and youth.
This year's event reflected the theme "Sneho Bhaktishcha Madhave", Bhagwan Swaminarayan's precept that profound love for God with knowledge of his greatness is the very essence of Bhakti. A presentation explaining the necessity, for any spiritual aspirant, of this love coupled with an understanding of God's glory kicked off the evening assembly. Learned sadhus elaborated on the topic with messages from the Gita, the Mahabharat, and the lives of Bhagwan Shri Krishna and his devotees.
Accompanied by the rhythm of the tabla and the melodies of the harmonium, youths sang devotional songs in Gujarati and Hindi extolling Krishna Bhagwan's glory. Devotees relished the festive atmosphere as BAPS youths performed Krishna Leela, a musical narration of Krishna Bhagwan's life, beginning with his birth 5,000 years ago in the small town of Mathura in Northern India.
The event also highlighted the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu scripture that serves as one of Krishna Bhagwan's most valuable contributions to mankind. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna Bhagwan reveals the path of liberation to his staunchest disciple, Arjuna. In addition to being one of the most important holy days of the year, the Janmashtami celebration was also a testament to BAPS's effort in promoting the cultural and spiritual development of its children and youth.
At the end of the program, the arti was performed followed by the kirtans, "Sona na mor jhule Nanda-kishore" and "Nand gher anand bhayo, Jai Kanaiyalal ki" as the infant form of Bhagwan Shri Krishna was cradled in a beautifully decorated swing, charging the atmosphere with devotion and divinity.