Chants of ‘Hare Krishna Hare Rama’ and ‘Govinda ala re’ reverberated the air as religious fervour gripped the country on Janmashtami today with devotees thronging decked-up temples and taking out colourful processions to mark the birth of Lord Krishna.

Amid blowing of conch shells and beating of drums, worshippers offered prayers since early morning in temples where special religious discourses, ‘Krishnalila’ or dance dramas and community kitchens were held. Tight security arrangements were made for the festival and additional security personnel were deployed in sensitive places.

Lakhs of pilgrims paid obeisance in the main temples of Mathura, the birth place of Krishna, Vrindavan, Nandgaon, Mahaban and Baldeo, and performed circumambulation of hillock Goverdhan. The temples of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) which celebrate the festival with great fervour and pomp, too attracted large congregations.

Bathing ceremony of the deity — ‘Abhishek’ — was performed with milk, curd, honey, ghee and khandsari amidst chanting of vedic hymns.

Thousands of Mumbaikars poured into the streets for ‘dahi handi’ festivities with youngsters moving around the city in processions and breaking pots filled with butter or curd, which are hung at a considerable height, to win prize money.

It is inspired by the mythological tale of Lord Krishna’s boy-hood trick of stealing butter from a suspended earthen pot.

This year’s festivities were also marked by rising cash prizes and presence of Bollywood personalities, lending a glamour quotient to the annual event.

Piling onto their cavalcade of trucks and motorcycles, hundreds of ‘govindas’ (young men) were spotted travelling to pandals and formed human pyramids to break clay pots.

Devotees also observed day-long fast and the celebrations peak at midnight when Krishna was said to have been born.

In Jammu and Kashmir, long-winding queues were seen outside lit-up temples. Tableaux depicting various aspects of the life of Lord Krishna were also taken out in various parts of Jammu in which hundreds of people participated.

Torrential rains failed to dampen spirits of devotees who thronged temples in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

1 killed, over 70 injured in ‘dahi handi’ celebrations in Maharashtra

Janmashtami’s ‘dahi handi’ celebrations in Maharashtra turned tragic as a 19-year-old was killed in Raigad district today and over 70 injured in other parts of the state.

The teenager, Durvas Patil, was killed after he fell from a six-level human pyramid at Dighi village in Raigad district, police said.

Elsewhere, in Mumbai and adjoining Thane, over 70 persons sustained injuries during the celebrations, civic officials said.

(This article was published on August 10, 2012)
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