History of ISKCON
ISKCON is an acronym of International society for Krishna consciousness. The founder Swami Prabhupada was himself an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. So profound was his love for the Lord that at the age of 69, Swami Prabhupada left for United States. Soon in the of year 1965, Swami established the organisation of ISKCON forming its headquarter at New York.
Thus was the birth of ISKCON which is a monotheist faith organisation that believes that Lord Krishna is supreme to all the other deities in Hinduism. Soon this organisation became a renowned name as well their faith a much appreciated faith. From then onwards ISKCON took the western countries by storm and the chant of “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare” became universally acclaimed.Day of Celebrating Janmashtami in ISKCON
Almost every year, Janmashtami is celebrated over two days by various communities of Hindus, Lord Krishna is believed to be born at midnight. Thus the celebration continues over two days. However different sects of devotee celebrate Janmashtami on different days, for while the Shaivyas celebrate it on the second day after midnight when Vasudevji took him to Gokul, The Vaishnavs sect choose to celebrate the festival on the first day itself. ISKCON however celebrates Janmashthami on the second day i.e. the day after the birth of Lord Krishna.Festive Activities at ISKCON
Many traditional activities are observed as well followed on the auspicious occasion of Janmashtami. Firstly, the idol of the Lord is beautifully decorated with flowers. The pedestal on which the idol is placed is equally laden with flowers and other relevant decorative items. Thereafter, Abhishek (bathing) of the Lord takes place with milk, milk products and fresh fruit juices. Soon 108 dishes of delicious food and sweet which are commonly known as 'Bhog' are offered to the Lord during midnight and thereafter it is distributed among devotees on a form of prasad. This is followed by Bhajans (devotional songs) sung along with various musical instruments in the glory of the Lord, various dances are as well performed by devotees in order to rejoice the birth of Lord. Finally plays or dramas are enacted depicting many leelas or situations from Krishna's life. This auspicious occasion is further enhanced by reading of various scriptures from Bhagawad Gita especially the episode of Birth of Lord Krishna is a special feature during Janmashtami.
Continuous chanting of Hare Krishna slogan are a common ritual observed during this two day festival. This is done in order to appease the Lord.
Celebration of Janmashtami in Brajbhumi
ISKCON organises 'Braj Mandal Parikrama' every year during the months of October-November. This involves a walking tour of nearly 84 miles to about 12 forests in Vrindavan and neighboring towns of Mathura, Nandgaon, Barsana, Gokul, Govardhan Hill and Radha kund. This traditional walk takes nearly a month to cover all the areas. Devotees of Lord Krishna cover this distance barefoot though shoes are also allowed. This parikrama is undertaken by the organization to promote Krishna consciousness as well as spirituality. Devotees from all over take active participation to make this event a success.
Worldwide celebrations by ISKCON
The celebration of Janmashtami has taken a worldwide shape for ISKCON is the sole responsible organisation which made this festival truly known and acquainted one. Various centres around the world do celebrate Janmashtami with lot of clamour and festivity. However grand celebrations are held in the prominent cities of United States including New York. Discourses and lectures are organised to mark the festival and spread the undertakings of Lord Krishna.