Swathes of blue filled a temple as thousands of people dressed up as Hindu deity Krishna to mark his birthday.

The biggest Janmashtami Festival outside of India took place at Bhaktivedanta Manor, in Hilfield Lane, Aldenham, yesterday and today (Sunday).

More than 70,000 people attended the event, which saw the house's peaceful grounds bought to life with the sound of music, colourful exhibitions and traditional dance displays.

Devaki Dasi, who volunteered at the festival, said: “It’s been an amazing day celebrating the birth of our God.

“Krishna is our hero and when you love someone, you go out of your way to make them happy. We want to spread that joy.

“We want to inspire people and make them aware of Krishna’s love. That’s what this is about, bringing people together who have one common interest.”

The event, which is comparable within the Hindu community to Christmas, combines traditional entertainments with worship.

People painted their faces blue, carried flutes and wore peacocks in their hair to dress like Krishna.

Thousands of people also passed through the altar room to pay their respects to Krishna, and the forests of Vrindavan in India, where Lord Krishna played where he was growing up, were recreated.

Children took part in a play about Lord Krishna’s life and adults staged a performance of Fakebook, a show about people’s perceptions of reality.

A vast selection of free Indian food was also on offer throughout the day, which is said to be the most special in the Hindu calendar.

Bhadranga Das, who has been a monk at the temple for four and a half years, said: “You forget how impressive the whole thing is because you get habituated to it.

“There’s a really nice upbeat atmosphere here, you can really feel the festival spirit all around you.

“It’s a really special day for all the community. As it’s the most important day in our calendar, we go all out for it.”

Temple president Srudidharma Dasa said: “It sends out an enduring message of hope and peace to the world – our faith sees all life as sacred and the world as one family.”

A special ceremony to celebrate the birth of the Lord will be held at midnight tonight (Sunday, August 17).