Janmashtami, the appearance day of Lord Krishna was celebrated on Wednesday 6th September 2023 at ISKCON Chicago located at 1716 W Lunt Ave, Chicago, IL. The appearance day anniversary of Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharya of ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) was also celebrated on the following day. The two-day celebration was attended by over a thousand Chicagoans from various cultures.
The festival was attended by the Consulate General of India, Somnath Ghosh and his wife, Anindita Ghosh. Mr. Somnath Ghosh urged the devotees to pray to the Lord “to become better devotees to serve mankind.”
Bhailal Patel, one of the notable community leaders said, “This is the first temple of Chicago and was established in 1972 in Evanston.” Sri Sri Kisora-Kisori was the first Deities of Radha Krishna in the Midwest that were brought in 1972 with the inspiration and efforts of Srila Prabhupada and his disciples. The temple also celebrated their 50th anniversary this year in June commemorating the dedication of the devotees for bringing the teachings of Lord Krishna to the West. “Our world today needs this spiritual knowledge to find the deep internal satisfaction and happiness that we are all looking for.” said the temple priest, Nama Ruci das.
The altar was gorgeously decorated with fresh flowers and vases. The main deities on the altar, Sri Sri Kisora Kisori, looked elegant in their embroidered brown and blue dresses. Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra were on the altar to the right and Sri Sri Gaura Nitai were on the left. They wore garlands of roses and blue orchids in the morning and pink lotuses at night. On the right of the altar was a swing for Lord Krishna and a deity of Srila Prabhupada was on a large simhasana (royal seat) across the temple hall.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham” “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.” The festival is a celebration of Lord Krishna’s descent into this world. His Holiness Radhanath Swami, one of the prominent spiritual leaders, said, “Krishna comes into this world out of his compassion for all living beings.” The teachings of Lord Krishna are found in the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. His Holiness Romapada Swami, one of the leaders in ISKCON, requested the devotees to imbibe the teachings given by Lord Krishna by studying the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Devotees celebrated the festival by fasting, bathing the Deity (Abhishek), by performing kirtan and reading from the Bhagavad Gita. The main attractions of the program include Mangala aarti (a ceremonial welcome of the Lord before sunrise), darshan aarti, chanting, drama and Maha aarti at midnight.
The festive mood was enhanced by the melodious songs glorifying the pastimes of Krishna. The devotees wore traditional dhotis and colorful saris and played traditional musical instruments like harmonium, mrdanga and kartal for the pleasure of the Lord. The festival was followed by a sumptuous vegetarian feast for all the guests.