Embarking on Radhika Way, the Radha Krishna Temple of NC nestles among huge loblolly pine trees, their reflections dancing on the surface of a pristine lake, revered by devotees as the Divine Yamuna Maiya. With its main doors offering a breathtaking view of nature’s beauty, the temple draws in a daily stream of devotees. They come to offer their hearts repeatedly at the lotus feet of Shri Radha Krishna, Shri Ram Darbar, Jagadguru Shri Kripalu ji Maharaj, and other manifestations of the Supreme Lord who graciously reside within and oversee the temple. Shri Krishna Janmashtami Mahotsav 2023 unfolded in this idyllic setting, uniting the entire NC community in a celebration of unity, identifying themselves as tiny parts of the boundless Ocean of Bliss.
Janmashtami commemorates the divine appearance of Shri Krishna in Mathura, 5000 years ago, fulfilling His promise to fervent devotees. As Shri Krishna, He immersed Himself in Divine Leelas or enchanting pastimes that captured the hearts of Braj’s residents, portraying Him as their own child, friend, parent, and beloved. The name ‘Krishna,’ signifies the ‘One Who forcefully pulls the mind.’ In a humble attempt to encapsulate a mere drop of God’s boundless love, the devotees of Radha Krishna Temple meticulously organized a grand 5-day event. Over 1000 local NC devotees, including 200 children and out-of-state attendees, immersed themselves in the celebration. Dive into the enchanting narrative to transport your mind to this divine setting and feel the surge of love for God in your heart.
Day 1 unfolded in joyous celebration, marked by blissful kirtans, sacred poojas, and cultural offerings that extended well into midnight. Eager hearts welcomed their Causelessly Merciful Lord in the form of a newborn baby, a momentous occasion when He appeared in the dark prison cell of Kans to Devaki and Vasudev. Imagine sitting before the deities of Radha Krishna beneath a starry night sky, making humble offerings of fruits and sweet dishes to your Lord. The temple pundit chanted Vedic hymns extolling the Divine Qualities of God, with even the youngest minds joining in the chanting of verses such as Kararvindena Padaarvindam – “We fondly remember the Beautiful baby Mukund (Krishna), Who reclines on a banyan leaf, holding His Lotus-like feet with His soft and gentle Lotus-like hands, placing them in His Lotus-like mouth.”
Post-puja, youths and elders united in cultural expressions of Bhajans and dances, offering their
art at the Lotus feet of Shri Krishna. A video lecture explaining the real purpose of the birth of
the Shri Krishna, enlightened everyone. Devotees learned that Devaki and Vasudev, in their
previous births as Sage Sutapa and Prishni, had done immense penance, asking God for a son
‘like’ Him. The Lord smiled and promised to come Himself, emphasizing that there is no other
like God. Glancing at the sacred Yamuna Maa, where Vasudev ji crossed with Krishna in a
woven basket, and the Govardhan hill on the left of the temple surroundings, devotees eagerly
awaited the experience of Shri Krishna coming to Braj, making an inner promise to return to the
temple the following day.
Day 2 unfolded graciously, with everyone adorned in their finest cultural wear, continuing the
celebrations with Shri Krishna Jhoolan, Garbha, cake-cutting, and arti. The sentiment of
welcoming Shri Krishna into Gokul was cultivated. The festivities commenced with another
delightful cultural program of singing and dancing, art forms deeply rooted in Indian history. Its
roots go way back to Dwapar Yug, where the women of Braj danced in sheer ecstasy upon
learning of Nand Maharaj and Yashoda Rani becoming parents to an enchanting boy, bluish in
complexion and more beautiful than millions of Cupids. Everyone lovingly adored baby Krishna
as the Leela unfolded, and devotees danced the raas (the union of the soul with God) in utter
joy. The night concluded with a Divine Arti and the relishing of prasadam, everyone joining in as
September 8th, the next day, etched itself into the temple’s memory. Crowds gathered to hear
the recitation of 1008 names of Lord Vishnu, overflowing with joy at hearing familiar and new
names. Their great fortune manifested as they continued to visit the Jhoolan, reliving childhood
Leelas of God. Bhajans continued, followed by bhog and Arti in the temple room. Then, word
quickly spread that the Radha Krishna Temple was transforming overnight into Braj, promising
Leela jhankis, games, live cultural shows, dahi handi, and sheer bliss.
The main events of Janmashtami unfolded on a beautiful Saturday morning, quickly
transforming into the scene of the famous Govardhan Leela amid a steady downpour. Devotees
embraced the rain as a Divine experience and a shower of grace.
Shri Krishna enacted various pastimes with the Brajwasis during the first 11 years of His life, all
entirely captured in the Jhankis named Mathura, Gokul, Vrindavan, and others. A simple
instruction at the front desk—take a ticket to visit the Jhankis, exchange it for a gift—opened a
gateway to an enchanting world for children, a world of their Divine Best Friend. Imagine 11-
year-old Jatin and Jayant standing at the Gokul tent, narrating how Shri Krishna desired fruits
from an old fruit seller but didn’t comprehend the need to give something in return. Upon
instruction from the fruit seller, He went into Mother Yashoda’s granary, took a handful of
grains, and gave them to her. His tiny hands barely managed to hold a few grains, and in awe of
Him, the fruit seller happily accepted the grains in exchange for the fruits. This was the greatest
bargain in her life, and by His Causeless grace, Shri Krishna transformed the grains into the
finest jewels. Children approached the Jhanki closely, watching the lady sitting amidst grains on
the pathway, unable to resist the opportunity to offer butter to Shri Krishna, and nudging their
parents to show them all the Jhankis.
The Dahi Handi and Fancy Dress show became special treats for children, fostering a
connection to Shri Krishna as their very own Friend. Numerous attempts were made to acquire
the coveted pot of butter tied on a line strung between two trees at the temple entrance. Without
giving up, children collaborated and eventually broke the pot, revealing delicious chocolates,
accompanied by claps and the playing of”Govinda Ala Re” in the background. The atmosphere
brimmed with exuberance as children, still decked up as Shri Krishna, Radharani, Meerabai, and
other Divine personalities, added to the electrifying bliss of the day’s events.
The concluding event epitomized togetherness as devotees returned to the temple on Sunday
for the Abhishekh of Shri Krishna, bhajans, and a lecture on Cultivating Devotion towards God,
culminating in Preeti Bhog.
This Mahotsav stands as a testament to the unshakable faith and devotion of the community.
It’s not merely an event, it’s a spiritual journey, deepening one’s connection with the Divine.
Finally, it is a reminder of the timeless love story between Lord Krishna and His devotees, a love
that continues to inspire and illuminate our lives.