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Rediff.com  » News » Swine flu fails to dampen Janmashtmi festivities

Swine flu fails to dampen Janmashtmi festivities

Last updated on: August 14, 2009 

Janmashtmi celebrated with fervour

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PTI
Chanting 'Hare Krishna', devotees thronged decked-up temples and set up tableaus as 'Janmashtmi' -- the birth of their much-loved deity -- was celebrated on Friday in the shadow of swine flu outbreak, with festivities remaining low-key in worst-affected Maharashtra.

Lord Krishna has been the focus of a large number of devotional cults, which over the centuries have produced a wealth of religious poetry, music, painting and sculpture.

Krishna is believed to have taken human form to destroy an evil king called Kansa.

Image: A devotee carries a child dressed as Krishna in a basket at the Durgiana temple on the eve of Janamashtmi in Amritsar
Photographs: Munish Sharma/Reuters
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Janmashtmi celebrated with fervour

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Hindus revere Lord Krishna since he orated Srimad Bhagwadgita known as the Song of Celestial Bliss. The celebrations climax at the midnight hour when the Lord is believed to have taken birth.

Krishna's imprisoned parents had to smuggle out the child born at midnight to save him from Kansa. Vasudev, Krishna's father, carried his newborn child in a reed basket and left him in the care of another couple at 'Gokul' -- far away from his birthplace Mathura.

Thus Janmashtami or Gokulashtami is celebrated on two consecutive days, the first is the day when Krishna was actually born, and the second, when he reached Gokul.

Image: School children dressed as Krishna wave from inside a bus on the eve of Janamashtmi celebrations in Chandigarh
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters
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Janmashtmi celebrated with fervour

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With authorities advising people against gathering in crowded places to prevent the spread of flu, the traditional Dahi Handi celebrations, a key part of the festival in the western state, lost much of their sheen, especially as major political parties like Shiv Sena and NCP pulled out.

Though people did turn out, but in much lesser numbers and the usual pomp and grandeur was missing from most of the 450 events.

As a precautionary measure, most of the mandals did distribute safety masks to the youths who form a pyramid to reach up to an earthen port (Dahi Handi) filled with curd and butter, to claim a prize money.


Image: Devotees form a human pyramid to reach a clay pot containing butter during the celebrations
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
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Janmashtmi celebrated with fervour

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In Pune, which recorded 15 swine flu deaths, nearly 25 mandals (organisers) cancelled their programmes.

However, in other parts of the country, people, including boys and girls dressed up as Radha and Krishna, offered prayers at the temples, which displayed colourful tableaus and staged dance dramas or 'Raas Lilas' depicting the life of Lord Krishna.

Tight security arrangements were in place with authorities apprehending terrorist attacks, especially in view of Independence Day celebrations on Saturday.


Image: Female devotees form a human pyramid to break a clay pot containing butter during the celebrations
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
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Janmashtmi celebrated with fervour

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Chants of 'Jai Jai Shri Radhey' rent the air as several lakh pilgrims watched the 'Abhishek' (bathing ceremony) of principal deity at Radha Raman, Radha Ballabh, Radha Gokulanand and Shah Ji temples temples in Vrindaban, where Krishna spent his childhood, and queued up for 'prasad'.

A seemingly unending stream of devotees was witnessed at the Radha-Raman and Radha-Damodar temples on the occasion, where the 'Abhisheks' (coronation ceremonies) of the principal deities were performed amid the chanting of Vedic hymns.

The devotees who jostled with each other at the Radha Damodar temple to have a glimpse of the 'Abhishek' of Giriraj Shila, the peace of rock believed to have been presented by Lord Krishna to Sanatan Goswami centuries ago, were drenched with a mixture of turmeric and curd after the ceremony.


Image: Devotees tumble as they try to form a human pyramid to break a clay pot containing butter
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
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Janmashtmi celebrated with fervour

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In Mathura, a huge rush of pilgrims also gathered at Keshav Dev, Bhagwat Bhavan and Dwarkadheesh temples to pay obeisance to the deity.

Addressing a gathering of devotees on the occasion, Mahamandaleshwar Guru Sharananand Maharaj said that the message of Lord Krishna as delivered in the Geeta is still relevant.

At least four lakh pilgrims have performed the ritual parikrama of Govardhan hillock so far and more are expected to visit the temple town, official sources said adding that Raas Lila was staged on Thursday night at Shri Krishna Janmasthan.

The soaring temperatures also dipped owing to overnight rains bringing relief to pilgrims and adding to the festivities.

Image: A Sadhu prays outside a temple on the occasion of Janmashtami in the pilgrimage town of Vrindavan
Photographs: KK Arora/Reuters
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