GOKULASHTAMI IN NEW JERSEY – AUGUST 201420 January 2017
The children in New Jersey and Pennsylvania eagerly look forward to the festival of Gokulashtami, celebratedatVanita& Ashok Balwalli’s house in New Jersey every year. On August 16, 2014, children dressed as Radhas and Krishnas, began streaming into the Balwalli’s residence with parents too, dressed in traditional finery.
The celebration began with Sabha Prarambh prayers followed by Shri Krishna Poojanam, Deepanamaskar, Shri Parijnanashram Trayodashi and Shankar Narayana geet.
The annual tradition of the Sri Krishna Janma Katha(Maasa Shraavana) was recited with great joy and devotion. This was followed by Dolotsava (PaaRaadhaaDaamodara). A small beautiful idol of Lord Shri Krishna, bedecked with ornaments was carried ceremoniously by Arjun Amladi from one end of the room to the other, and laid in a beautifully decorated cradle by Vanita Balwalli pachi&Padma Betrabetpachi. The children were asked to pull the string attached to the cradle, to rock it gently so that Balkrishna can sleep. The kids love to participate in this ceremony!
Vanita& Ashok Balwalli’s house
Vanita Balwalli pachi then performed “aarati” to Lord Shri Krishna, and to each child as part of Shri RadhaaKrishna Pooja. UmeshNagarkatte mam &ChitraNagarkatte pacchi sang the “Radha Krishna RadhaKirtan during this pooja. ShrutiUdyawer distributed sweets to everybody as “Prasad”. After the kids finished eating the sweets, theyoffered “TulsiVrindavans” as a symbolic gift toLord Shri Krishna.
The children performed dances and sang bhajans with gusto, as their “Seva” to Lord Shri Krishna. Anannya Trasi, dressed as Radhaand Ananya Bijur, Aditi Olety, Punya and Anya Balwalli, dressed as Gopikas, danced to the song” RadhaKaisenaJale”. Arjun Amladi sang an energetic Krishna bhajan,”Baaje re Muraliya”, as his offering to Lord Shri Krishna. Pranav Olety andAtharva Trasi gave an excellent Tabla performance under the guidance of our very own Tabla Guru and Tabla Maestro PrabhakarBetrabet mam. 5 year old Aditi Olety recited three shlokas “RadhikaManohara”, “ HeyMuraliSridhara”, and “ AnandaSaagara” with poise and confidence in front of the audience.
Then the much awaited event of the evening was finally there. The symbolic “DahiHandi” breaking ceremony was performed with much excitement and gaiety. The Handi, filled with candies and sweets was tied to the ceiling. The older children formed a circle,and the younger ones climbed up to get their hands on the candy-filled handi. After a few attempts and lots of cheering, Colton Fox (whose mother is Indian, and married to a Jew) managed to tear open the cover of the handi! And down came the candies, children and all! The children began gathering as many candies they could find. It was a treat to see the happiness on the childrens’ faces! To add to their excitement, more chocolates and candies were being given out by the elders. During the DahiHandi ceremony,everybody sang ‘Gopal Krishna Gopal’ smaran. Even the children sang the smaran, engrossed in collecting candies. This was followed by a sumptuous Prasad bhojan.
The Ashtami Mhantiyo (Shri RamaavallabhadaasaVirachitaBhajanaamruta) was sung with great devotion by all present, and went on till midnight. Prarthana Varga was thus converted into a Satsang once again, as part of the Gokulashtami celebration. This is a tradition followed by Aamchis in New Jersey and Pennsylvania every year. The children went home, happy to have celebrated their favorite Lord Shri Krishna’s birthday. Everybody looks forward to the next year’s gala celebration at the Balwalli’s residence.
Because the grace and blessings of our loving Guru Parampara, this kind of community/religious celebrations are held with much joy and gaiety, and will continue for years to come.
Jai Shri Guru Parijnanashram.Jai Shri Guru SadyojatShankarashram.