New Delhi, Sep 2 Men, women and children of all ages on Thursday thronged temples that were decked up in bright coloured lights, decorations and flowers across Delhi for Janmashtami which celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Despite the hot and humid weather, crowds were large.
The main Janmashtami celebrations in the city take place at the Lakshmi Narayan temple, better known as Birla Mandir, in central Delhi, the ISKCON temple in East of Kailash and Gouri Shankar temple in Old Delhi.
Akhilesh Sharma, a 24-year-old devotee at Birla Mandir, said: "The temple opened after the Mangla Aarti around 4:30 a.m. and I have been here since then. The muggy weather can't discourage me from worshipping my favourite god."
Temples are decorated with fancy lights for illumination at night as people throng the temples near midnight hour when Lord Krishna is believed to have been born. Devotional songs are also sung in temples throughout the day.
Outside the Birla Mandir, pandals tents have been put up to offer shade to hundreds of devotees. Stalls serving fresh fruits and puri-sabzi have also come up and will start serving after midday.
"A shobha yatra (religious procession) will be taken out around 4 p.m. in which local cultural groups will participate along with dandiya raas teams. A raas leela team is also coming from Vrindavan to perform at our temple," said Ravindra Nagar, head priest of Birla Mandir.
"We have prepared a prasad (offering) of misri (sugar crystals), makhan (butter), panjeeri and fresh fruits," he added.
Meanwhile, a royal feast of 1,108 dishes, including those from Chinese, Continental and Indian cuisines, is to be offered to Lord Krishna at the ISKCON temple.
"We performed an aarti at 4:30 a.m. today (Thursday) followed by guru puja and shringar darshan. We have decorated the temple very beautifully," said a priest at the ISKCON temple.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the big temples and markets in the capital on the occasion of Janmashtami.
Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said: "Security has been increased at all the market places and traffic plans have been prepared to conduct the celebrations smoothly. Armed deployment has been made at the big temples. Door frame metal detectors and CCTVs have also been installed in them."
Apart from the temples, many market associations as well as cultural groups organise colourful shows across the city. These usually commence a week before Janmashtami.
The highlights at many places, including temples, are evidently the beautiful tableaux, which depict the life of Lord Krishna — from his birth till the time he slays his evil uncle Kansa.
"My 10-year-old daughter is captivated by these tableaux. She just wants to see them again and again," said Rajesh Bhatia, who was standing in the queue for the second time at a local temple in Rajendra Nagar in central Delhi.
Sweets are prepared at home and some people fast the whole day before savouring them. Some even bathe a small Krishna idol in milk before placing it in a cradle.
"I have got a gold plated idol of Lord Krishna specially made for today. I bathed it in honey, milk and gangajal before adorning it with a colourful attire and pearl crown," said Arun Modi, resident of Patel Nagar in central Delhi as he gently rocked the baby cradle.