Abu Dhabi: Over 3,000 Indian expatriates converged upon the Abu Dhabi BAPS temple site on Friday night to celebrate Janmashtami, the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna.
Although there was no confirmation from the organisers about India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the event, he was on route to Abu Dhabi from Paris, and the huge turnout was in part because people were also expecting to catch a glimpse of their country’s premier.
Indian Consul General Vipul and businessman BR Shetty, the founder and chairman of NMC Healthcare and UAE Exchange, were also in attendance.
The air-conditioned tent bore a festive look festooned with photographs of Krishna’s birth tableau (religious figurine).
BAPS head priest Sadhu Brahmaviharidas presided over the event, which began with several musical bhajans (devotional songs) in praise of Krishna sung by sadhus (holy men) from BAPS organisation (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha is a Hindu religious and social organisation within the Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism).
Artists and musicians also performed with worshippers following along to create a ambience of melodious chant.
Later in the evening a tableau of Krishna Katha (legend of Krishna the cowherder with his enchanting flute) was narrated.
The evening concluded with a Maha Bhog or dinner dedicated to Janmashtami where thousands of people enjoyed a pure vegetarian meal.
One of the devotees, Joginder Singh Salaria, said: “We are thankful to the UAE government for giving us the opportunity to celebrate the Krishna Janmashtami and also we are indebted to them for taking care of us as one family. These joint celebrations are strengthening the UAE-India socio-cultural and spiritual ties,” he added.