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Shri Krishna Vrundavana celebrates Leelotsava and Aradhane of Shri Raghavendra Swamy

BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE

Atlanta, GA, September 29, 2023: Commemorating Lord Shri Krishna’s birth, Krishna Janmashtami features as one of the prominent festivals in India’s cultural calendar. Shri Krishna Vrundavana (SKV), Atlanta celebrated the occasion, Leelothsava along with 352nd  Aradhana Mahotsava of Shri Raghavendra Swamy with religious fervor accentuated with sacred chanting of mantras and traditional rituals on September 9, 2023 at Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul in Duluth. Well over 1500 devotees from Atlanta, North Carlina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee joined the festivities. The rituals and prayers executed in an elaborate, traditional ceremonial style enhanced the divine experience.

The birthday of Krishna, the beloved Hindu god, renowned for his compassion and his wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita, said to be the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu is celebrated on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha, in the month of Shraavana of Bhadrapad (according to the lunar calendar). Per Vedic chronology, this year marks Lord Krishna’s 5250th birth anniversary. Legend has it that Krishna, the child of Devaki and Vasudeva, was born at Mathura at midnight. However, his maternal uncle King Kansa kept putting his life in danger, owing to the fear that his death would come from the eighth child of Devaki. Vasudeva, who was detained in a dungeon, transported the newborn in a basket after his birth all the way from there to Gokul, where Nanda and Yashoda nurtured him.

Shri Raghavendra Swami is a 16th century saint and a prominent guru of the lineage of Madhwacharya. Each year, the day he entered Jeeva Samadhi (Brindavana) at Mantralayam and believed to live in a metaphysical form for 700 years, is observed as Raghavendra Aaradhane. According to lore, Raghavendra Swami chose to enter Brindavana during Shravana Masa,Krishnapaksha in 1671 A.D.

Priest Jaya prasad Achar performed the Aaradhane rituals, starting with the Tarkari Shastra, which was held the evening before the day-long event. Tarakari shastra is a unique ritual (specifically Udipi and surrounding areas) performed the prior day to a major function to seek the blessings of gods who preside over the items, ingredients and process of cooking. One specific outcome is to estimate the number of people who are expected to partake in food the next day. This is performed through a unique South Indian process where the raw banana is cut in a specific way and immersed into water. The number of white side (inside part) facing up with a multiplication factor provides an estimate of expected number of people.

“The celebration of Guru Raghavendra Swamy Aaradhana and Sri Krishna Leelotsava brought back nice memories of the days we used to see such grand celebrations in Bangalore. With the upcoming temple construction, this was a great preview of the grand celebrations we can expect,” Veena Madwesh, organizer, noted.  

Along with sacred chanting of the Vedas and Veda Ghoshas, the festivities included many different pooja, sevas, and activities such as Sankalpa, Punyavachana, Panchamrutha abhisheka, Padapooja, , Maha pooja, Rangapooja, astottara, and bhajane. SKV, with its roots in Mangalore, Karnataka, India, highlighted the celebrations with the regional favorites, Hulivesha and Mosaru Kudike.

Hulivesha or Pili – yesa (Tiger Dance) is a folk dance which is unique to the Tulu Nadu region of Karnataka. The name Huli-vesha or Pilyesa literally means Tiger-costume in Kannada and Tulu respectively. It is a surreal amalgamation of folk dance with street theatre, simulating a metamorphosis wherein veshadharis experience a psychic triumph over their primal instincts.

Mosaru Kudike, a sportive ceremony of breaking pots tied to a pole filled with butter milk, colored water and money in commemoration of the childhood of Lord Krishna  (similar to Dahi Handi in the north).

The special festive milieu culminated in both the Udupi and Gujarati traditions coming together for the aarati of Krishna, Rayaru and Swaminarayan temple deities, accompanied by a special dinner. Maha Prasada, served earlier in the day for lunch featured several twelve different typed of traditional foods and 5 desserts!

“We are pleased to announce the finalization of a land parcel to construct the new abode of Shri Krishna in greater Atlanta. The proposed land was finalized and blessed during Shri Shri Swamiji’s visit in Oct’22. The new temple will be built completely ground up and in accordance with the Vedic shastras. This will be a Golden opportunity for all Krishna Bhaktas to be part of the historic occasion,” main priest Jaya Prasad Achar said. The new temple will be located at 2531 South Clement Rd, Cumming, GA 30041

“Shri Krishna Vrundavana, is a center of culture, tradition, and spirituality for all our devotees,” Nirguna Joshi, organizer, said.

The temple constructions cost is estimated at $5Mn to $6Mn. “We sincerely request all our devotees and well-wishers to partake in the temple construction seva opportunity and avail Shri Lord Krishnas blessings. SRCF is a 501(C) registered nonprofit organization, and all donations are eligible for tax benefits as permitted by the IRS. We will issue receipts for your records against every Dollar contributed to support the temple construction,” Achar added. You may visit https://skvatlanta.org/ for details.

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