FaithTech Series: Online darshan marks Janmashtami at Bhaktivedanta Manor

Bhaktivedanta Manor's ISKCON Temple at Watford in England's Hertfordshire countryside is known for its spectacular three-day celebrations of Krishna Janmashtami every year, attracting thousands of devotees from around the world. However, this year, under government Covid-19 guidelines, preparations look a little different but promise to be spectacular again.

Live broadcast

The ISKCON Temple will celebrate the festival, which falls on Wednesday, with staggered darshan or worship timings.

Devotees can visit the Bhaktivedanta Manor between 12:00pm-9:30pm local time without booking and 12:00am-1:00am via online booking. However, in keeping with the lockdown trend so far, the entire broadcast will be available to view live online. "Wherever you are in the world, stay connected with us," is the message from the temple.

Mother of all devotion

Festivals are an integral part of the bhakti-yoga tradition. ISKCON Founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describes them as “mothers of devotion”. With a myriad of colourful decorations, sumptuous meals, elaborate rituals, music, dance and dramas, festivals are believed to rejuvenate spiritual sentiments and a time for community.

Fasting and feasting

Janmashtami, which marks the birth of Lord Krishna, is a major celebration for the ISKCON - the International Society for Krishna Consciousness - community the world over. It is one of the biggest celebrations of the year, as it marks the day Krishna appeared on earth over 5,000 years ago in Vrindavan, India.

Krishna means "the all-attractive one". He is believed to be the cause of all causes, the Supreme personality of the entire creation, both material and spiritual. He is considered the God of all gods, and the Lord within everything and separate from everything at the same time.

This is the day devotees celebrate His beautiful pastimes, His presence in their lives, taking time to remember their eternal loving relationship with Him and His presence within all hearts. Devotees fast until midnight on this day, followed by a feast in His honour.

Volunteers at the Bhaktivedanta Manor will be serving a takeaway feast after the midnight darshan to save devotees time queuing on the day.

by Vidhu Sharma

*Info on the ISKCON's Janmashtami celebrations and live online broadcast here

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