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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Bhaktivedanta Manor Janmastami festival 2011

Wednesday, 12 October 2011 / Published in Reports / 4,323 views

By Lakshman das

Please see the link for photos………

By the arrangement of Lord Krishna and the blessings of Srila Prabhupda I was able to attend the Janmastami celebrations at Bhaktivedanta Manor this year. It was a truly amazing experience, seeing as this festival is the biggest of its kind outside India, attracting over 70,000 during a two-day period. The event is a glimpse of the colourful taste of mystic India with a magnificent pandal, live stage shows, colourful costumes, enchanting music, meditation and tasty prasadam in a very colourful setting.

{A brief History of Bhaktivedanta Manor Janmastami Festivals:

Bhaktivedanta Manor Krishna Temple, situated in the Hertfordshire countryside annually holds what is perhaps the world’s most vibrant celebration of Janmashtami. This day is especially dear to the community, visitors and pilgrims of the Manor, not least because Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, performed the installation ceremony of the Deities of the temple (Sri Sri Radha- Gokulananda) on Janmashtami in 1973. Hence at the Manor, the celebration is not only of the appearance of Lord Sri Krishna but also of the anniversary of the installation of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda.

Back in the humble beginnings of 1973, there were barely 100 people to celebrate Janmashtami at the Manor, with Srila Prabhupada offering the first beautiful arati to Radha-Gokulananda and leading the devotees in encircling the Deities, dancing and leaping in kirtan. Just one year later, in 1974, the Janmashtami festival attracted 5000 guests for a full day program with a special tent on the lawn showcasing plays, movies, slides, discourses and musical chanting (kirtana), and 1500 guests stayed until midnight to witness the first anniversary abhiseka (bathing) of the Deities. In 1975, with a staggering 14,000 visitors, the festival attracted the attention of England’s leading newspapers, the London Times and the Daily Telegraph}

Over the years the janmastami celebration has grown even more. Nowadays pilgrims from all over the world flock to the Manor. I myself am an example of that. After hearing about it for many years I became eager to attend this festival.

I was amazed to see the wonderful festive arrangements: the warm welcome, the well-organised darshan of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, the goshalla darshan, prasadam service, parking arrangements, stage programs, dramas, stalls displaying and selling Srila Prabhupada’s books, Ahimsa milk, the children’s corner, Japa Meditation area, First aid, VIP care, special mobile washroom facilities, beautiful exhibitions, enchanting Vaishnava Bhajans and Hare Krishna Kirtan, Radha Rani’s Bakery and Govinda’s Restaurant, the congregational cooking team and many more.

There was a huge car parking arrangement, accommodating more than 20,000 vehicles and a special shuttle services was available from the car park to the main entrance of the Temple for the elderly and disabled.

At the “welcome gate”, a team of Matajis welcomed the pilgrims while putting Vaishnava Tilak on everyone’s forehead, explaining everything and giving them their festivals brochure.

All the pilgrims were directed from the road via the Goshalla on their way to the temple and they were given the opportunity to feed the cows. According to the Vedas human beings have three duties toward the cow: serving the cow (go-sevä), worshiping the cow (go-püjä) and protecting the cow (go-raksa). Lord Krishna becomes very pleased when somebody serves the cows.

Srila Prabhupada encouraged prasadam distribution, book distribution and harinam sankirtan as our main preaching activities and I was impressed to see all three of them being wonderfully carried out during this festival. Very sumptuous prasadam was arranged for everyone and devotees took advantage of the large crowd to distributed Srila Prabhupada’s books. A team of devotees headed by HG Parasuram Prabhu was also doing Harinam Sankirtan in the festivals area and in the pandal.

In addition, there was a team of devotees promoting “Ahinmsa Milk.” It is a factual, serious yet heartwarming message. The Ahimsa team urges you to think before you drink milk and positively question what experience cows would have endured to provide you with a glass of her milk. Guests were also given free milk packets to get a taste of Ahimsa Milk.

In the Japa Meditation area fortunate souls were given an opportunity to learn Japa meditation and chant a round of japa. In the “Children’s area” one could find play ground dedicated for children and various programs such as dramas and quiz competitions were organized for them. The children wore T-shirts with colourful paintings of Radha and Krsna’s lotus faces on them. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

A wonderful Abhisekh took place in the main pandal morning at 10:30am and at night 10:30pm. Many senior devotees took part in the abhisheka including HH Radhanath Swami, HH Atmanivedan Swami, HG Malati Mataji, HG Sruti Prabhu, HG Trinadapi Prabhu and other senior devotees.

A countdown began before midnight and at midnight exactly everyone chanted “Happy birthday to Krishna”.

The festivals site manager Kamal Prabhu told me that congregation devotees had been working hard since a month beforehand for the success of this festival. Varieties of preparations we made till midnight for Bakery as well as the Govinda Restaurant.

Darshan was open all the way till midnight and people stood in long queues patiently to have the darshan of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, Sri Sri Sita Rama Lakshman Hanuman, Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai, Srimati Vrinda devi and Srila Prabhupada.

Some of the highlights of the program were the lecture by HH Radhanath Swami, various traditional dance performances, festive chants, the welcome and abhisheka of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda and the midnight arati offered to Them.

It was very nice to see Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda carried in a beautiful palanquin to all festival counters and departments accompanied by a kirtan procession. Every department offered delicious Bhoga to Them and the devotees humbly reported their seva and prayed to Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda for the blessing to be able to do their seva nicely.

This festival was undoubtedly a success also because of the dedicated effort of all the volunteers who gave their time and energy for the pleasure of Their Lordships and Srila Prabhupada. Their efforts are commendable, exemplary and very inspiring. I hope to attend this festivals in coming year..

Your comments are welcome!

Hare Krishna .. Jay Srila Prabhupada!

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