The hustle and bustle in markets and temples in Braj started week before with devotees thronging the holy city, which adorns a festive look. Hotels and dharamshalas are all packed with devotees from across the country and abroad.

People from across the nation have thronged the Yamuna Ghats, despite heightened security. Braj comprises Mathura, Agra, Bharatpur and Hathras districts. The main focus of the 5,239th birthday of Krishna will be Mathura's Sri Krishna Janambhoomi.

Krishna, one of the 24 avatars of Hindu god Vishnu, is worshipped by millions of devotes over the world.

"For the Vaishnavs, Janmashtami is the most important festival. Special pakwans (dishes), laddoos, dry fruits, 'panjeeri', 'panchamrit' are being prepared. Many people keep fast and eat only after the midnight, which is considered to be the birth time of Krishna," Pandit Madhukar Chaturvedi said.

Heavily surrounded by security personnel, the Janambhoomi campus in Mathura itself looks like the demon Kansa's jail, where Krishna was born. The whole campus has been lit up and decorated with flowers.

The Yamuna river Ghats in Mathura are filled with pilgrims. Special ‘Raslila’ programmes are being enacted by artistes under the guidance of Swami Sri Ram Sharma Nimai.

"This year, there will be special spraying of herbal scents in the sanctum sanctorum. A number of generators will provide the power backup in case of a breakdown. Devotees will be provided cool water and prasad," said Kapil Sharma, secretary of Sri Krishna Janm Sthan Sewa Sansthan.

Gopal Das, president of the Sansthan Nritya, will perform the main 1,008 pushp shringar aarti (special floral ritual) around midnight. Faced with an acute demand for flowers, some temples like the Janambhoomi's Keshav Dev temple has made arrangements for supplies from Kolkata and Bangalore.

Both in Vrindavan and Mathura, ‘kirtans’, ‘satsangs’ and ‘Raslilas’ have been planned, with famous seers lined up to create a truly divine ambience. The Panchamat Abhishekam (holy ritual) at the famous Dwarkadheesh temple in Mathura will be held on Wednesday.

Security beefed up

Special security arrangement has been made at two shrines in Mathura that are considered very sacred by devotees. Eight companies of PAC had been deployed to ensure security for pilgrims.

Police personnel and intelligence units have cordoned off the area around the Janambhoomi campus and pilgrims are being thoroughly screened.

Briefing about the security arrangements, District Magistrate Vishal Chauhan said, "Total area has been divided into three zones and thirteen sectors with a gazetted officer in charge of every zone and sector.

"While areas of both the shrines have been put under red zone, adjacent colonies have been placed under yellow zone. Rest area has been placed under green zone," Chauhan said.


Informing further about the measures taken, he said, "47 barriers, 12 parking points and seven points for keeping the article of the pilgrims (makeshift clock room) have been set up."
Police in plain clothes would also be deployed at strategic points, he added.

The state road transport corporation will run extra buses to ease traffic pressure in Mathura and Vrindavan. Half a dozen trains will stop at Bhuteshwar, close to the Janambhoomi in Mathura. Some trains will have an extended run till Jhansi to clear the rush, officials said.

Festival fervour grips national capital

The Janamashtami fervour has gripped the national capital with a slew of cultural activities and events running a week before the festival.
Cultural programmes depicting the tale of Lord Krishna is running across the capital for the past few days.

Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra's "Krishna" presentation is a well-crafted tale of the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu from his early days of youthful antics to the centre stage of human reverence.

In this thoroughly researched presentation, the audience will see varied facets of Krishna: his naughty side as that of a "maakhan chor"; his loving relationship with beloved Radha; and as someone with wisdom, dignity and infallible strength.

"Lord Krishna is seen as someone with whom everyone can associate with. From a naughty childhood to his playful adolescence days to being wise and commanding - a special connect binds him with people," said Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra director Shobha Deepak Singh.

The two-and-a-half long performance at Kamani Auditorium is running since August 26 and will conclude on Janamashtmi (today).
"Lord Krishna had more human characteristics. In all the tales that have been revered, he comes across as a god who was more man-like and less god-like," Harishumna Bisht, secretary of Delhi's Hindi Academy, said.

"Through our presentation we are remembering this part of Krishna," he added.

The Delhi government's Department of Art, Culture and Languages and the Hindi Academy are presenting a "Krishna" sound-and-light show tracing his.

Directed by Prem Matiyani, the two-hour long-show will be staged twice on Wednesday.

"Krishna Leela" a 15-minute dance and drama performance will re-enact Krishna's favourite pastimes, Radha and gopi's love and respect from Krishna through "Raas Leela" and finally his manifestation as Lord Krishna. It'll be on through the day on demand at in the central atrium of Saket's Select City Walk.


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