On Friday 23 August, more than 4,000 devotees gathered at the site of the BAPS Hindu Mandir to celebrate the festival of Janmashtami, the birth of Shri Krishna and focused on his message of righteousness and spiritual balance in life.
People from all walks joined together in devotion and worship. Dr. B. R. Shetty, a prominent philanthropist shared, “This is historic as it speaks volumes of the grace and generosity of the local rulers who have gifted us this land and an official license to celebrate our festivals with devotion and joy while the upcoming Hindu Mandir is planned and constructed. This has been a dream for us for so many years and I believe this is as much a celebration of this Year of Tolerance as it is of Janmashtami.” A galaxy of business and community leaders from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman echoed similar feelings.
His Excellency Mr. Vipul, the Consul General of India in Dubai was also in attendance on behalf of His Excellency Mr. Navdeep Singh Suri, the Ambassador of India. Mr. Vipul announced the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed that the upcoming temple and this festival were symbols of the friendship between our two nations. The Consul General commended the devotion and commitment of the BAPS sadhus and volunteers with gratitude but specially congratulated the children who had performed a spirited cultural program during the festivities.
Senior sadhus from BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha blessed the assembly. Pujya Brahmavihari Swami inspired all with his words. “Krishna’s message was one of righteousness and values. If we protect spiritual values, in turn, spiritual values will protect us. We should perform devotion with grace and dignity, pride and purposefulness and not with disgrace and helplessness. We are fortunate to be living in a nation that supports the universal values of tolerance and harmony. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and our Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi have shown to the world their commitment to righteous and peaceful living by celebrating this Year of Tolerance and granting us the historic permission to create a temple that will invite people of all faiths to gather in dialogue and mutual learning – inspiring all to become better human beings and loving members of the global human family.
The festival closed with special prayers and bhajans after which devotees lined up to meet the esteemed sadhus and swing Shri Krishna’s cradle. Everyone left the assembly with traditional prasad, evening meal and elevating memories of this first of its kind festival in the middle of a desert.