Jersey City Hindus celebrate Lord Krishna’s 5,240th birthday with fasting, song and dance

Sunday was a birthday celebration more than 5,000 years in the making.

Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, turned 5,240 this weekend, and hundreds of people gathered in Jersey City’s Govinda Sanskar Kendra Center and temple Sunday night to mark the occasion.

The night “is very important,” said Raju Patel, the president of the Govinda Center Association. “It is one of the ancient events celebrated in India.”

Visitors removed their shoes as they entered the temple for the main ceremony around 8:30 p.m. As eager parents looked on and had their smartphones ready to record, about a dozen children between 5 and 10 years old began an ancient dance known as Krishna Raas Garba.

The children performed in front of the holy altar dedicated to Lord Krishna, which was festooned with flowers, lights and more.

People celebrated with chanting and more dancing, leading up to midnight when the deity was born.

But while the main ceremony began in the evening at the temple, Lord Krishna’s birthday was celebrated throughout the day.

Many people fast the entire day and came Sunday night to the temple to eat the day’s holy food, which is vegetarian and contains no onion or garlic, said Viloo Majithia, the treasurer for the Govinda Center Association. Majithia added that visitors also come to be blessed for the new year.

“This is a big celebration,” said Atul Jhaveri, the vice president of the Govinda Center Association.