Submitted by Cittahari das
My name is Jyotirmaya Dasa and this year I happened to be in South India, Tamil Nadu, Salem, for Janmastami celebration.
Since past 14 years ISKCON Salem, under the guidance of HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami, celebrates Sri Krishna Janmastami festival. This year’s Janmastami in Salem was the biggest ever in every respect. A huge pandal was erected over 3 acres of land. The two- month joint effort of 50 brahmacaries and a few hundred dedicated congregational members resulted in a breathtaking offering to Lord Krishna: more than 50,000 people attended the two-day festival. Everyone got a full plate of Krishna prasadam (10 items) and hundreds of Srila Prabhupada’s books were distributed. Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities shone in the middle of a huge lotus flower (see the photo), blessing everyone who came for darsan. The darsan queue went almost one kilometere out of the temple land and neither the drizzling of the rain nor the long queue could stop thousands to come and offer their homage to the Lord. After an elaborate abhisheka more than 1008 dishes were offered to Lord Krishna. ISKCON Salem was indeed a place to be at to celebrate Krishna Janmastami. As it was confirmed by Salem District Commissioner of Police, ‘ISKCON has revived the long lost culture of celebrating Sri Krishna Janmastami in Tamil Nadu.’ Years ago it was a big festival in the city, but for the past 25 years it has been reduced to a mere private home celebration â€“ now again it grows year after year and attracts thousands to the lotus feet of Krishna.
Many prominent people of Salem city attended this year’s Janmastami celebration, relishing the variety of programs such as bhajans, lecture, abhisekam and all-attractive dramas by Chennai-based Bhaktivedanta Theatre lead by Bh. Danush. The ‘Bilvamangala Thakura’ and ‘Madhavendra Puri’ dramas were acted out so nicely that everyone was amazed and many cried as well. It takes very little to invoke pious sentiments in the hearts of the local people.
Local rice and spice shop owners supplied ingredients for cooking, others brought flowers and fruits, some helped with the pandal construction, our Christian friend welded the stainless steel lotus for the Deities’ alankara, private bus owners offered free bus transport for two days for all people, Balaram Govinda prabhu, a local jeweller, displayed huge banners (30×60 feet) all around the city inviting all to come and even the local TV stations advertised the eventâ€“ everyone did something for Krishna. Indeed it was the city’s biggest celebration.
Both days were filled with the singing of Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, Hari-katha and prasadam distribution - the simple but the most effective method to benefit all.
Everyone experienced happiness at heart and still the Janmastami event is a talk of the city.
All are looking forward for the next year’s celebrations.