• Tuesday, December 05, 2023

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Bhaktivedanta Manor celebrates Janmashtami

The festival features live music and a hand-decorated forest depicting scenes from Lord Krishna’s childhood pastimes

Janmashtami being celebrated at Bhaktivedanta Manor near Watford

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor near Watford celebrated the temple’s 50th annual Krishna Janmashtami last week with thousands of pilgrims attending the event over three days.

The festival featured live music, performances and a hand-decorated forest depicting scenes from Lord Krishna’s childhood pastimes.

The shrine at the spiritual sanctuary was adorned with flowers and figures of Radha and Krishna as part of the ticketed event.

Manor president Vishaka Devi Dasi said this year’s edition of the festival was a milestone for the spiritual sanctuary and “we honour the legacy of His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, who through his endeavour and sacrifice made this all possible.”

The spiritual sanctuary sits on an 80-acre estate in Aldenham donated in 1973 by the Beatle George Harrison who wrote several devotional hits, including My Sweet Lord.

Devotional songs rendered during the celebrations

ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) founder Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada installed the shrine in 1973 as the popularity of the Hare Krishna movement meant that the existing temple in Bury Place, London, had grown too small.

Now the manor is a thriving temple, cultural centre and monastery with its own teaching college and organic farm with a protected herd of cows.

British devotee Dhananjaya Das who identified the place after being told by Harrison recalls: “George and the rest of The Beatles were heading to LA. Before he left, he asked me to continue searching for a property suitable to be our new temple. We had previously looked at properties in Oxford, London and other locations across the country.

“Then I saw Piggott’s Manor advertised at an estate agent in West Kensington and thought this could be the one – it was only on the market because the current buyer’s mortgage fell through. Although we weren’t the only ones interested in purchasing it – there was also a Sheikh from Dubai looking for a UK residence for his family and had put in a higher offer than us, but one of his wives felt the property wasn’t large enough for them.

“It was at that point the estate agent called me and said ‘it’s yours’ – we were delighted.”

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