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BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills, CA


Shri Krishna’s birth celebrations held at BAPS Mandirs

Los Angeles, Sep. 19, 2010
Dilip Butani

Every Hindu festival is an occasion of distinctive and meaningful celebration across India and beyond. Janmashtami, the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Shri Krishna, one of the most venerated incarnations in Hinduism, is celebrated in a traditional manner at BAPS Mandirs throughout North America. Sunday, September 5, 2010, marked the day of the celebration which saw great excitement and devotion as devotees gathered for an evening of bhajans, inspirational discourses by sadhus, and skits and folk dances performed by children and youth.

Traditionally, many express their devotion on Janmashtami by observing a waterless fast and spending the day immersed in reading, reciting and singing about Shri Krishna's life and message. In the evening, devotees gather in the mandir for a celebration. At midnight, the time of Shri Krishna’s birth, devotees perform the arti of his infant form. Finally, the traditional prasad of Panchajiri is distributed to all.

This year’s event reflected the theme “Sneho Bhaktishcha Madhave”, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s precept that profound love for God with knowledge of his greatness is the very essence of Bhakti. A presentation explaining the necessity, for any spiritual aspirant, of this love coupled with an understanding of God’s glory kicked off the evening assembly. Learned sadhus elaborated on the topic with messages from the Gita, the Mahabharat, and the lives of Bhagwan Shri Krishna and his devotees.

“The anniversary of Krishna Bhagwan’s manifestation is celebrated every year, but the true celebration is when we realize God’s manifestation in our heart and experience peace. Krishna Bhagwan’s life teaches us to maintain faith in God in both good times and bad”, explained Pujya Aksharvandan Swami, a sadhu in the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chicago.

Accompanied by the rhythm of the tabla and the melodies of the harmonium, youths sang devotional songs in Gujarati and Hindi extolling Krishna Bhagwan’s glory.

Devotees relished the festive atmosphere as BAPS youths performed a skit based upon incidents from the life of Shri Krishna Bhagwan.

The event also highlighted the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu scripture that serves as one of Krishna Bhagwan’s most valuable contributions to mankind. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna Bhagwan reveals the path of liberation to his staunchest disciple, Arjun.

In addition to being one of the most important holy days of the year, the Janmashtami celebration was also a testament to BAPS’s effort in promoting the cultural and spiritual development of its children and youth. "This is one of the greatest celebrations for the Hindu community, one that is observed throughout India and abroad," explained Jatin Shah . “We make sure that BAPS youth are very much a part of this festival and have the opportunity to celebrate their spiritual and cultural heritage,” he concluded.

At the end of the program, the arti was performed followed by the kirtans, “Sona na mor jhule Nanda-kishore” and "Nand gher anand bhayo, Jai Kanaiyalal ki" as the infant form of Bhagwan Shri Krishna was cradled in a beautifully decorated swing, charging the atmosphere with devotion and divinity.

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots - their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure, and free of addictions.

His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, has inspired millions of people across the world to lead a God-centered, morally pure life. As the present leader of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj travels from village to village, continent to continent, emphasizing the importance of family harmony, community service and spiritual progress. He embodies the essence of Hindu life. His compassion for humanity, universal wisdom and striking simplicity have touched many world religious and national leaders.