Last week, Hindu faithful observed Janmashtami, the festival celebrating the birth of Krishna.
The favourite, most loved and admired of all Hindu deities, Krishna was born in an era of chaos and persecution; freedoms were denied and evil was everywhere.
It is believed that Vishnu, the mythological Lord Protector, was beseeched to rid mankind of evil forces. He obliged and himself became the saviour by assuming human form — Krishna. This birth of the Avtaar is revered as Janmashtami, and it is an occasion to fast, visit temples, pray together, sing and dance, besides organising special recitations of the Bhagvad Gita and preparing and sharing special meals.
The name Krishna spells out love and devotion. The philosophy of Karma and nonattachment to material surroundings, as preached in the Lord’s celestial songs, provide heavenly solace and enlightenment.
The human character and colourful life of Lord Krishna, coupled with romantic and soothing flute playing, and luring his beautiful milk maids, the Gopis, makes him one of the most admired and loved of Hindu deities. His colourful and romantic life and worldly achievements have inspired many a cultural and religious expositions from time immemorial.
Film makers, dance, ballet and drama producers the world over have capitalised on the immensely colourful life and devotional moods of the deity’s story. At home, Kenyan Asian theatre and dance institutions have always excelled when presenting expositions based on the Krishna theme.
Janmashtami celebration also brings forward Radha Krishna love legends, believed by scholars to be Hindu symbolism for longing and love of the human soul for divine principle and reality. Almost all Indian classical dance styles project this love in pursuit of reality by incorporating the Radha Krishna theme in one way or another.
Kenyan faithful and Krishna bhagats displayed great reverence and enthusiasm, visiting temples, singing bhajans in praise of the romantic Lord and offering special prayers for love, understanding and peace to prevail within our borders and beyond. Gifts were exchanged and traditional sweet dishes were enjoyed at family and communal get-togethers.
The Hare Rama Hare Krishna Temple in Nairobi hosted devotees to special Janamashtami prayers, Raas Leela showing, bhajan singing, dancing and traditional feasting.
Let Krishna’s divine love and blessings prevail, and unity, peace and understanding flourish among the people of this country and the world.
Jai Jai Krishna.