ISKCON Janmashtami Celebration
The celebrations at ISKCON revolve around the all-encompassing Lord Krishna, and Janmashtami is perhaps the biggest of them all. ISKCON Janmashtami celebration happens all across the world with great Devotion. Janmashtami refers to the day when the Appearance of Lord Krishna, the supreme Lord, is celebrated.
On this day, you will find that ISKCON temples around the globe are decorated and devotees come in large numbers to rejoice. A supremely auspicious day for Hare Krishna devotees, here now we will understand the meaning of Janmashtami in full depth.
On the day of Sri Krishna Janmashtami, it is imperative that you visit the temple. At the ISKCON Temples, the festivities are in full swing. The grand festival goes on for the entire day, and besides puja, there are a lot of other activities happening. Every ISKCON Temple comes up with something unique during this time, and involve large numbers of people in the festivities.
ISKCON prepares Prasadam for devotees, which is first offered to the Supreme Lord as Bhoga, and then there are games and activities organized for children in some temples. The Deities of Radha Krishna are adorned with beautiful flowers, amazing ornaments, and celebrations of Janmashtami are conducted with love and devotion.
What is the Story of Janmashtami?
The story of Janmashtami is the story of the Advent of Lord Krishna. It is celebrated each year on the eighth day of the Bhadrapada month. The Supreme Lord appeared in Mathura in a dungeon to Queen Devaki and King Vasudeva.
The story goes that Devaki’s brother; the tyrant Kansa, was told by a voice in the sky that one of her children would kill him. Kansa decided to kill Devaki so that she does not give rise to any children, but Vasudeva, her husband begged Kamsa to forgive Devki and promised that he will give any of her child to Kamsa, so then Kamsa on this assurance from Vasudev, let Devki go. He imprisoned both Queen Devaki and King Vasudeva. Kansa made sure that none of her children survived.
On the night of Lord Krishna’s appearance, Vasudeva was asked by the Lord Himself, to take Him as the baby to his friend Nandraja in Gokul. Nandraja’s wife as we know was Yashoda. Vasudeva was having a hard time to take the baby as Lord Krishna across the raging river Yamuna.
This is when Lord Vishnu’s Shesh Naag arrived and helped Vasudeva to carry the child across the river safely. Vasudeva then exchanged Lord Krishna for a baby girl that Nandraja and Yashoda had that very night and headed back to the prison with the girl child.
When the cruel Kansa came to kill the baby girl, a divine miracle happened. The baby transformed into Goddess Durga who then warned Kansa about his impending doom. This is the story of the Supreme Lord, Krishna’s advent in this world.
Why do We Celebrate Janmashtami?
Janmashtami is a grand celebration to commemorate the appearance of Lord Krishna, who is believed to be the Supreme Lord or the Lord of the Lords. It is the celebration of joy, love, and divinity. The story of Krishna’s appearance reminds us through Kansa’s actions that ego and pride are the major faults in human beings which can only doom them.
It is because of our ego that we end up doing things that are not Godly. But with humility and love, we can defeat ego. The image of baby Krishna is the image of unbridled love. Lord Krishna’s appearance is a symbol of the mind’s prosperity, and it is this, that we celebrate.
How is Janmashtami Celebrated at ISKCON?
On the day of Janmashtami, the temple hall is decorated with beautiful and fragrant flowers, and thronged by devotees who are eager to have Darshan of the Lord and serve Him. There are varieties of flowers used for the beautification of the temples, and the festival starts from the early morning. One of the main rituals on this day is the ceremonial bathing of the deities.
Both the deities of Radha Krishna, and even Balaram get the ceremonial bathing, and then there is Mangal Aarti and more. Prasadam is distributed among devotees, and as mentioned earlier there are activities going on throughout the day with melodious Kirtan and chanting of the Holy name practically the entire day.
At midnight, the Lordships are offered an Aarti yet again, and hundreds of men and women watch with teary eyes, full of love and devotion for the Supreme Lord. The festivities go on until the next day as well. This is when Nandotsav is celebrated.