By Sri Swamiji’s grace, a 10-day Sri Krishna Janmashtami Utsav was celebrated joyfully by Global Organization for Divinity (GOD) this year, despite the overhanging Covid cloud.
The Utsav was conducted primarily at Namadwaar Prayer House in Houston under the guidance of Sri Ramanujamji and Sri Ramaswamyji. Hundreds of devotees from all around North America, and other countries too, participated live online enthusiastically. The Utsav events were modeled along the lines of the Janmashtami Brahmotsav that is usually celebrated annually at Sri Swamiji’s Madhurapuri Ashram near Chennai, India during the same time.
On Janmashtami night, Aug 11, abhishekam was performed for Namadwaar deities, Sri Premika Varadan-Madhuri Sakhi (Sri Krishna-Radha Devi) while kirtans were sung. Then parayanam of Sri Krishna Jananam chapters from Srimad Bhagavatam was read, followed by more kirtans, anukaranam (enactment) of Vasudeva carrying Krishna to Gokula and Gopis/Gopas rejoicing the next morning while placing baby Krishna on a swing.
From the next day onwards, Bhagavan was decorated in various themes and vahanams (divine ‘vehicles’) on each day, and celebrated with kirtans amid glowing lamps. The alankarams included Sesha Vahanam (Adisesha), Simha Vahanam (lion), Garuda Vahanam on ekadasi day, Yaanai Vahanam (elephant), Kudirai Vahanam (horse), Nikunjam jhoola, and Plavam (boat).
Special celebrations were also held on specific days. There was Sri Guru Paduka bhajan on Thursday (Aug 13), Garuda vahanam ekadasi bhajan on Ekadasi day (Aug 14). On Dwadasi day (Aug 15) Govinda Pattabhishekam was celebrated with Govardhana Annakoototsav, anukaranam of Sri Krishna lifting Govardhan Maharaj, and coronation of Krishna as ‘Govinda’. The next evening (Aug 16) Sri Krishna and Radha Devi, decorated beautifully on a swing in Brindavan nikunj, celebrated Nikunjotsavam by enjoying a classical vocal concert of Sri Swamiji’s Madhurageetham compositions by Madhura Sriram, student of Vidushi Smt. Rajarajeshwary Bhat, accompanied by Mukund Nair on mridangam. On Aug 18 evening, Janavasam (pre-wedding ceremony) was celebrated for the Divine Couple with kirtans and exchanging of garlands. The following morning, Aug 19, a grand Radha Kalyanam (Divine wedding of the Divine Couple) was celebrated with rendition of Ashtapadis (Sri Gita Govindam) in the sampradaya bhajan style. Hundreds of devotees from around the world who attended the event live were blessed by having their names read out to the Divine Couple.
The same evening (Aug 19), a divine and extremely memorable Plavotsavam (boat utsav) was held that will remain etched in devotees’ hearts for a long time to come. Sri Krishna and Radha Devi, accompanied by Radha Devi’s sakhis, boarded a beautiful swan boat on the Yamuna river, that was steered by Sri Swamiji. As the full moon rose above the boat and devotees melodiously sang kirtans describing the boat leelas of the Divine Couple, the sublime ambience was beautifully divine and took all the devotees – the few who were present in person as well as the numerous who were present virtually – to a different plane of joy and love for Bhagavan.
The Utsav concluded the following day (Aug 20) with a Prayer satsang in the morning and an Anjaneya Utsav in the evening, where Hanuman Chalisa and several prayer kirtans were rendered with prayers for more and more such joyful satsangs.
As a precursor to the Janmashtami Utsav, complete Srimad Bhagavatam parayanam of 18000 slokas was performed over 27 days culminating on Janmashtami day. Apart from the main Utsav events detailed above, several children and youth from USA and Canada offered kala seva (music and dance) and hari katha to the Divine Couple through online cultural performances every evening. There were also devotional discourses each evening by devotees from different cities.
Devotees from around Houston lovingly made beautiful flower garlands, lovely new clothes, sweets and savories for the Divine Couple and performed the service of decorating the sanctum for various events. There is no doubt that Bhagavan was indeed extremely pleased with the devotion-filled Utsav celebrations. The celebrations brought much joy, happiness and blessings into the lives of all who participated in any way.
Humble pranams and gratitude to Sri Ramanujamji for conducting this Utsav and all the satsangs in the way that Sri Swamiji would be extremely pleased with. Prayers to Sri Swamiji to constantly bless us all with more and more such divine satsangs.
See Janmashtami Utsav 2020 Album on Faceboook: