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ISKCON Melbourne celebrates Janamashtami
One of the biggest Hindu festivals, celebrated by more than 900 million devotees across the globe, Janamashtami celebrates the earthly appearance of Lord Krishna. It is also known as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Sri Krishna Jayanti, Ashtami Jayanti or Saatam Aatham in various parts of India.
Why is Janamashtami celebrated?
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna appeared at midnight, on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the auspicious month of Shravana/Saavan in the Hindu calendar. He was born as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva, in order to rescue the world from pain and suffering caused by the evil king, his maternal uncle, Kansa.
How Janamashtami is celebrated?
To commemorate this occasion, festivities begin before dawn and extend until the next day. On this day, many devotees fast until midnight, to seek Krishna’s blessings. Devotees perform Kirtan, Bhajans, Japa and sing and dance to holy hymns and tunes, overwhelmed with Bhakti Ras. After the completion of abhishek (deities are bathed in holy water, milk, saffron, rose petals, sandalwood and so on amidst chanting of hymns), sweets are offered to the Lord and distributed amongst all as prasad or bhog.
Celebrations in Melbourne
His divine grace A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in New York in 1966. Since then, ISKCON has been instrumental in sharing the Vedic principles and propagating spiritual knowledge across the globe.
The Janamashtami event at ISKCON Temple in Melbourne, located at 197 Danks Street, Albert Park, began with evening prayers. The cultural program followed.
Children of all ages participated in huge numbers and displayed their talents. The Vitthal bhajan mandal recited the hymns and prayers composed by Sant Tukaram, a poet and sage who lived in the 17th century and belonged to the bhakti movement in Maharashtra. A Kathak dance on Krishnakaliya prasang (the mythological story of the dance of Lord Krishna on a snake) by Ms Brinda, was then followed by a dance by Ms Meera on Meerabai bhajan.
The former Premier of Victoria Ted Baillieu and his wife graced the occasion, along with other dignitaries, Margaret Fitzherbert (MLC, Southern) and Craig Ondarchie (MLC, Northern). Rashi Kapoor (Victorian State Finalist for the Miss World Australia 2015) and Dr Subhash Sharma were also amongst those present.
It was enchanting to see the former Premier chant the Mahamantra with all the devotees present in unison.
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”
Bhaktadasa from ISKCON Temple thanked Mr Baillieu and his former advisor Nitin Gupta for the funding the Temple received from the Australian government. Their efforts ensured a capital approval for ISKCON, a bus stop at Durga Temple and the inclusion of Hindi in the curriculum. ISKCON is also hoping to build a Vedic school in Victoria and is working towards grants and approvals from government in the future.
The evening ended with the distribution of the prasada which included Sooji halwa (semolina pudding) tamarind rice, avial (vegetarian stew based in coconut gravy) and herbal tea.