TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Visitors to the Taipei City Council Hall last Saturday, Aug. 23 witnessed a kaleidoscope of color and activity at the Sri Krishna Janmasthami Celebration, an annual gathering marking the birth of Lord Krishna, one of the most widely worshiped Hindu deities.
The event, organized by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and co-sponsored by Trinity Indian Store, celebrated the birth of Krishna, a beloved blue-skinned Hindu god depicted often as a mischievous boy or a youthful prince giving guidance in the Bhagavad Gita, a text of pivotal importance to the Hindu view of life.
Despite the rainy weather, people of many nationalities attended the celebration and enjoyed non-stop attractions, including performances and Indian vegetarian snacks.
A key part of celebrations was Kirtan, or devotional music, which consists of bhajans or songs about Krishna that are accompanied by traditional drums, hand cymbals, and accordion.
One bhajan, titled "Jaya Radha Madhava," depicted Krishna's early years in Vrindavan, while another related a story from Krishna's playful childhood, in which Krishna revealed the entire cosmic creation in his mouth to his mother Yashoda.
The audience was also treated to a yoga demonstration and a variety of dances, ranging from a Bollywood number performed by children, to the captivating classical Indian dances of Bharatanatyam and Kathak.
Members of the Taipei-based dance troupe Shen Ling Wu Ku portrayed the eternal love between Radha and Krishna with several dances.
Two meaningful dramas written, produced and acted by ISKCON devotees depicted various aspects of Krishna's life, such as his relationship with childhood friend Sudama.
In addition to enjoying performances, festival attendees browsed books about Krishna, bought Indian groceries, and had decorative tattoos painted on their hands by henna artists.
People were also invited to participate in a Pushpa-abhisheka ceremony involving the showering of flower petals on statues of deities including Krishna, after which the Hare Krishna mantra was chanted 108 times using prayer beads.
Event host Dayal Nitai Das, temple president of ISKCON in Taipei, ensured the smooth running of the celebrations, while ISKCON member Rajalaxmi provided Chinese translations for the many Taiwanese attendees and ISKCON devotees.
India-Taipei Association Director General T.P. Seetharam, a guest at the celebrations, described the event as representing, "the essence of Indian culture and spirituality. Hindus worship many gods, among which the most human is Krishna. We know more about Krishna than any other god. He is everyone's child, the lover of every woman, and teacher and philosopher for everyone. He represents all aspects of life."
ISKCON, also known as the Hare Krishna movement, has more than 350 centers worldwide.
Founded in 1966, ISKCON carries on an ancient tradition rooted in the Bhagavad Gita, the teachings Lord Krishna spoke five millenniums ago.
Today, ISKCON members continue the movement by distributing the teachings of Krishna and the Hare Krishna mantra all over the world.
The Taiwan ISKCON center is located at 4F, No.192 Tingzhou Rd., Sec. 3, Taipei. Tel: (02) 2365-8641.