Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Thousands flock to Janmashtami Festival at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Aldenham
Sunshine glittered on silk and sequins as thousands of people joined together to celebrate Hare Krishna.
More than 30,000 people flocked to Bhaktivedanta Manor, in Hilfield Lane, Aldenham, for the annual Janmashtami Festival to celebrate the birth of the Hindu god Krishna.
This year’s spectacle was bigger than ever as it marked 40 years since Beatle George Harrison gave the mock Tudor mansion to founder Bhaktivedanta Swami.
Members of the public and devotees mingled as they enjoyed Indian food and music, watched colourful dancing and queued for hours to enter the temple and pay their respects to the god.
Temple president, Srutidharma Das, said: "It’s wonderful to see so many smiling faces here. About 30 per cent of people here come from the local area.
"I’ve spoken to Jewish families who came here for a day out because it was sunny. One man said since he came here his mind has been at peace rather than in pieces.
"We’re very much a part of the local community here and do our best to help."
At least 40 young people with blue painted faces carrying flutes joined with children in saris as they carried out crafts or acted in plays about the Hare Krishna movement.
Balloons filled the air and people bought manure and gigantic marrows grown in the grounds, accompanied by the rhythmic sound of singing.
Bushey resident, Ravindra Patel, said the festival had been "amazing".
He added: "I bring my family every year. It’s our second home. It’s an exciting time. Every year it builds up to a crescendo as people expect the birth. It’s happy and joyous."
A team of 1,200 volunteers dedicated their time to the festival, working for weeks carrying out tasks from preparing the 10.5 tonnes of potatoes to looking after guests.
More than 15,000 cars queued to enter the site, causing tailbacks on the A41.
Yet the organisers said the parking and traffic had been managed as well as can be expected.
Hertsmere's mayor, Councillor Paul Morris, said the festival was "fantastic".
Councillor Morris added: "There were huge crowds but it did not feel threatening in the least. What I was so taken by was the peaceful family atmosphere.
"Religious organisations need to take a lesson from the festival’s superb organisation. There were huge crowds but it did not feel threatening in the least.
"I saw only a fraction of what was on offer and it was wonderful to find out more about what goes on here and about how they enhance Hertsmere."
The event continues on Sunday, where another 30,000 are expected.
Comments are closed on this article.