(An account by a devotee guest who attended the Janmashtmi Festivities at JKP Barsana Dham, the US Ashram of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj)
What a Janmashtmi we just had at Barsana Dham?! It was the first time I had celebrated Janmashtmi at Barsana Dham in a long time and I can honestly say it was one of the greatest Janmashtmi celebrations I have ever experienced.
We began with a sumptuous dinner prasad in the dining hall. And later, Sushree Prabhakari Devi, vice-president of JKP Barsana Dham gave a thought provoking and moving speech on the real meaning of Janmashtmi. Perhaps the part of the speech which most struck a chord with me was when she was speaking of making Krishn Janmashmi 'your own'. Prabhakari Devi spoke about the magnificent Janmashtmi celebrations she celebrated in India long ago, which in her mind, define what Janmashtmi is and she encouraged all of us to have a Janmashtmi of our own which we can always have as something to remember. And I can truly say that Janmashtmi 2010 is one which I will always remember.
At the beginning of the evening program in the temple prayer, Barsana Dham's special guest the Honorable Sanjiv Arora, council general of India spoke some words of wisdom to the huge crowds. This was followed by some Indian dances and a special Vrindaban mandali, "Makaan Chori" was performed by the Shri Natraj School of Dance. The highlight of the cultural program was the Janmashtmi leela performed by the devotees of Barsana Dham. It was a short and sweet depiction of baby Krishn's appearance leela. At the climax of the leela, Mother Yashoda and Nand Baba said that it is now time to show our baby to the whole world, and with that, all the brajwasis began to cheer and celebrate by throwing sweets and gifts in every direction throughout the prayer hall, to everyone there. By the end, everyone was dancing and singing and cheering in unreserved devotion and joy at being part of what felt like the real Janmashtmi celebration of 5000 years ago.
When I went outside I heard lots of guests talking to each other, and to friends and family on their cellphones. The reactions were truly amazing. One man was on his cellphone, and was saying something about that even at temples he had visited in various parts of India, he had never seen anything like what he had seen at this temple. Another man, who it seemed was his first time visiting Barsana Dham, was just standing on the temple steps with friends, and said he was just so glad he came.
The best part of the evening was towards the end of the night when the 3000 strong crowd subsided a little, and we all just sat in the prayer hall quietly and reflectively singing Janmashtmi pad revealed by our Spiritual Master Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj. After some time, the tempo began to increase slowly but surely, and towards the end of the day (nearly at mid night) we reached the climax of the whole day's festivities as one or two people began dancing, as if by spontaneous inspiration. After a minute or so, no one was seated. Conches were calling and drums of various tones and sizes were beating in charming rhythms. Some of the people had their eyes closed, some open, some had tears in their eyes, some were sweetly smiling in joy, but everyone was clapping or dancing in some way or another. By the end, at midnight, we all did arti to baby Krishn and to our supreme master Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, with whose grace made this whole day a day to remember, and whose Barsana Dham ashram is the guiding light, and true solace of all spiritual seekers and lovers of God in the western world.
Now at Barsana Dham, all the devotees are getting ready for the equally grand and joyous occasion of Radha Ashtmi on Sunday, Sept. 19th 2010. If you would like to learn more about it, and attend, please visit http://www.barsanadham.org/festivals-radhaashtmi.html
Check back soon, and I will try to post some photos of the amazing event!