Festivals at ISKCON Delhi
Festivals are a vital part of community life at ISKCON Delhi, involving large numbers of volunteers. They can be attended by as many as 800,000 visitors in a single Janmastami day. They give opportunities for the community to meet one another, share and grow in their devotion, to hear from visiting teachers and find renewed inspiration. Special activities and projects such as dramas, exhibitions, workshops, community projects and cultural presentations — all the work of community volunteers — are shared with the community and with the general public.
Gaura Purmina is the appearance anniversary of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534) who is Radha and Krishna combined. On this day, which is a full-moon day, everyone fasts till moonrise, and people visit the temple to see the Deities of the Lord in the temple room. The devotees present dramas and classes about Lord Chaitanya’s activities. The Deities of Gaura-Nitai receive new clothes, and the devotees engage in extra kirtan. At moonrise we serve a prasad feast (sanctified vegetarian food).
The Ramanavami celebration observes the birth of Lord Rama, and is one of the most auspicious days in the Vaisnava calendar. Lord Rama is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord who appeared on this earth several millennia ago.
At ISKCON Delhi, celebrations for Ramanavami include special decorations, drama, discussion of Lord Rama’s pastimes and a harinama chanting procession in the surrounding areas. It is a popular occasion, as Lord Rama is very dear to many devotees. During His activities while on Earth, Lord Rama demonstrated high moral values and acted as the perfect son, student, brother, husband and King. His extraordinary adventure is marvellously depicted in the famous epic The Ramayana.
Highlights on the day
- Maha Abhishek
- Drama by Vaikuntha Players
- Lectures on Lord Rama
- Feast for everyone.
Sri Krishna Janmastami
The auspicious day of the appearance of Lord Krishna is celebrated all over the world as Sri Krishna Janmashtami. It is celebrated on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) of the month of Shraavan. Krishna, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared in Mathura as son of Vasudeva and Devaki.
ISKCON Delhi is reputed to celebrate one of the largest Janmashtami celebrations of its kind since last 20 years. The festivities last’s for 12 days beginning with a Srimad Bhagavat Katha for a week, followed by a shoba yatra (procession outside the temple).
Preparations start months in advance to herald the appearance of Lord Krishna. Hundreds of devotees work tirelessly to ensure that the thousands of devotees and visitors who flock to the temple have comfortable darshan of Sri Sri Radha Parthasarathii on Janmashtami day and the midnight when the appearance of the Lord is celebrated.
Radhastami is the celebration day of Srimati Radharani’s appearance. Radharani is the consort of Krishna. She appeared to Vrishabhanu Maharaj (her father) in the village of Rawal a fortnight after Krishna’s appearance.
Radharani’s special qualification is that She is the best devotee of Krishna. Krishna therefore loves Her the most. On Her festival day, devotees seeking Krishna’s grace will especially ask Her to grant them devotion to Her beloved Lord, knowing that if they can attain Her favor, they can attain His as a natural consequence.
On Radhastami, Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities are traditionally dressed entirely in flowers. Sri Sri Radha Parthasarathi are offered a new outfit in the morning and adorn a flower outfit in the evening. A abhishek to Their Lordships are performed at noon.
Jagannath Rath Yatra
The Rath yatra festival has been traditionally celebrated annually in Jagannath Puri, Orrisa, where Lord Jagannath along with His sister Subhadra and elder brother Baladeva paraded through the streets of the city. This practice and festival still takes place in Puri and since the late sixties all over the world.
The pulling of Rath cart during the Rath yatra procession by the devotees symbolizes the attempt of the residents of Vrindavan, especially the cowherd boys and girls, to bring Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra back to Vrindavan, the holy dhama near Mathura, UP from Kurushetra.
The first Rath yatra outside India was initiated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON) on July 9, 1967 in San Francisco. The Lord of the Universe (Lord Jagannath) now parade in major cities all over the world such as London, Paris, New York, Durban, Rome, etc.
People around the globe are becoming attracted to the joyful and colorful Rath yatra festival. Thousands throng the streets to pull the giant chariots, chant and dance and enjoy tasty prasad given to all joining in a celebration to honor the appearance of Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra.
ISKCON Delhi celebrates Rath yatra annually around October/November. The festivities includes the Rath yatra parade, offering of Chappan bhoga (56 foodstuffs), spiritual discourses and a spiritual and cultural festival.
Nauka Vihar (Boat Festival)
Every year in the summers months, the devotees at ISKCON Delhi celebrate the boat festival of Their Lordships. This festival is connected to the pastimes of Lord Krishna and Srimati Radharani, who along with their friends would enjoy boat rides on the river Yamuna in the summers.
Devotees in the temple decorate the Kailya Krishna pond with a stunning flower bed which appears as if the entire pond is made up of flowers. Their Lordships are then requested to come down to the pond while being accompanied by sankirtan. They are then taken around the pond on a boat while thousands of devotees showers flowers and chant.