London: Thousands of devotees in the UK
on Monday attended a two-day Janmashtami festival, celebrating the
birth of Lord Krishna, at the Bhaktivedanta Manor in Watford
Believed to be the world`s largest Hindu festival outside
India, up to 72,000 people took part in the Janmashtami
festival, which featured hundreds of children dressed up like
Lord Krishna, with their faces painted blue, many carrying
flutes and wearing peacock feathers in their hair.
Another highlight included a flowered walkway through the
spiritual gardens and woodland.
The site was donated to the Hare Krishna movement by
former Beatle George Harrison in 1973.
The entire festival was run by 1,500 volunteers from the
Srutidharma Das, President of the manor, said
celebrations of faith were important.
"The Janmashtami festival is a festival of peace in what
are troubled times...Ahimsa is a very important belief in
Hinduism and the cow symbolises peace and prosperity in
society. When the relationship between humans and cattle is
correct everything in the world is in harmony," he said.
Das said there is an imbalance in society. He said these
festivals reiterate people`s values and make them into better
"We can integrate but still have our culture. We have to
follow the laws of the land, but following our culture will
enhance the fact that we are part of Britain," he underlined.
As pilgrims entered the huge festival site, they passed
through the new farm complex which has been recognised as a
blue-print for compassionate and sustainable farming which
will change the way people think about how their food is
Farm manager Stuard Coyle said people are beginning to
care more about what they consume and how it got to their
"The belief in the old adage, `you are what you eat`
shows the change in people`s awareness that they are beginning
to care more how food and drink is produced," he said.
Janmashtami was also celebrated at the Shri Venkateswara
(Balaji) Temple in Tividale in West Midlands.
The temple is set in a 21.5 acre site, with a number of
different shrines and other facilities and it has grown over a
10-year period to become physicall the largest South Indian
temple precinct in Europe.
Leading London-based NRI hotelier Joginder Sanger played
a key role in building the Balaji Temple, by raising necessary
funds for the project.