The colours of Krishna will soon be enriching us, as Janmashtami approaches. Gokuldham temple, the epicentre of one of Goregaon east’s prime neighbourhoods, has week-long celebrations planned out. Whether you’re a regular temple-goer or not, a Krishna devotee or not – these activities still have appeal.
Krishna Vatika Devasthan, as the temple is officially known, was built in 1992 by the Goenka and Associates Social Welfare Trust. Since its inception, from dawn to dusk, it witnesses hundreds of devotees each day. The ample space within the temple complex provides a sort of urban sanctuary to them. In the presence of the main temple dedicated to Krishna and Radha, along with smaller shrines dedicated to about ten more deities, people have the opportunity for peaceful homage and pensive prayer.
This solace is obviously transformed into much buzz and bustle during the Janmasthami celebrations. “Innumerable people attend the pooja and other celebrations each year, throughout the week,” says Pandit Dubey, who was a sort of guide around the temple for me. Dubey, along with the manager of the temple, Sunil Poddar, gave me a brief description of all that’s in store for those who will visit between August 25th and September 1st – until the Janmathami celebrations conclude.
The elaborate decoration of the temple premises and deities notwithstanding, the variety of events to be witnessed here form an interesting celebration of one of the most worshipped cosmic forces, Krishna. On August 25th, after the regular evening aarti, the temple will close briefly to complete the shringar and offerings of the deities. At 8 o’clock, begins the Janm Mahotsav, with bhajans and dance-dramas being performed by artists like Rajkumar Josh and Rishikumar Sharma, with artists from Kolkata, and Shyam Agrawal. This concludes with the highlight of Krishna’s birth at midnight, celebrated with aarti, darshan and prasad. “Close to 2,000 people come for just this first day,” relates Poddar.
The afternoon of August 26th will host Nandotsav, with children enacting a dahi-handi ritual amidst floral decorations.
The following day, August 27th, invites participation from the general public – children are encouraged to dress like Krishna in the Bhagwan Swaroop Darshan Bal Pratiyogita at 6 pm. Age categories are listed as 4-6 and 6-10 years. After this concludes, the late evening programme at 8 pm will be a Nritya Pratiyogita by children between the ages of 6-9 and of 9-12 years. This competition is adjudged on dance enactments of bhajans by the participating children.
Through the next couple of days, visiting singers from Kolkata, Punjab and of various religious and social groups will be singing bhajans and reciting verses of paaths.
Week-long, the colours of Krishna, Gopal, Shyam, Balgopal – a myriad appellations – will be illustrated and venerated at the Krishna Vatika Devasthan. Do drop by at some time, if you would like to take back a pinch of colour.
Forms for the children’s competitions are available at the temple’s office and need to be filled and submitted by August 25th.
A copy of the complete schedule is available at the temple’s office.