on Sept. 11, 2010
Radha and Krishna at the ISKCON Community in New Vrindaban, West Virginia.
When people visit New Vrindaban for the first time, they often ask, “Who is that girl with Krishna?” Her name is Radha and she is the queen of Vrindaban. On Wednesday, September 15, New Vrindaban Community will celebrate Radhastami, which is Radha’s Appearance Day or birthday. All events are free and open to the public.
The story of Radha’s appearance is one of the most beautiful stories in the ancient Vedic scriptures. According to the Vedas, around 5,000 years ago, King Vrishabhanu was taking his morning bath in the holy Yamuna River. Just then, a beautiful baby girl floated by lying on a lotus blossom. King Vrishabhanu embraced the infant and carried her off to his queen, Kirtida. When Kirtida saw this magnificent child, she showered little Radha with unrelenting affection.
Radha’s spiritual Vrindaban is a place of enormous wealth. The ladies of Vrindaban have wardrobes filled with the finest silks, and jewelry chests filled with precious gems. Nonetheless, Radha’s favorite ornaments are the necklaces and crowns that Krishna makes for her out of wild flowers.
“Because Radha is so fond of flowers, we often make a special outfit on Radhastami made entirely from flowers,” said Malati Dasi, one of the GBCs in New Vrindaban. Last year, the dressmaking team glue-gunned nearly 2,500 flowers – mostly chrysanthemums – onto a stiff cotton fabric, which they used for dressing Radha and Krishna. Other flower varieties include orchids, marigolds and daisies, along with assorted greenery for contrast.
Decorating with flowers is one of the 64 traditional Vedic arts. The art of creating flower dresses and jewelry was nearly lost, however, until it was revived by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). “Srila Prabhupada introduced this art to the western world. ISKCON in India, however, has taken it to another level by importing exquisite flowers from around the world to make flower garments and earrings for Radha and Krishna.”
This year, New Vrindaban is in suspense, wondering whether Radha and Krishna will again be dressed in flower garments, or whether the new special-ordered silk outfit from India will arrive in time for Radhastami. “The outfit from India is absolutely gorgeous. It is made from a silvery silk brocade with an exquisite orange decorative detail,” explained Malati. “One of the local devotees is an expert at jewelry-making, so she will make matching necklaces and chokers.
“Radhastami is a feast for the eyes. I invite our neighbors to visit New Vrindaban and catch a glimpse of mystic India,” said Malati. “There is a lot happening during this early fall festival which begs everyone to join in the fun!”
Here is the schedule of events for Radhastami:
5:30 pm Traditional bhajans (hymns from ancient India)
6:00 pm Narration on Radha’s appearance
7:00 pm Everyone has the opportunity to offer to Radha and Krishna incense sticks, small hand made lamps, flowers, hearts, balloons. There will be dancing and singing.
8:00 pm Free vegetarian feast
For more information about this free public festival, call (304) 843-1600 or visit www.NewVrindaban.com. New Vrindaban Community is located south of Moundsville – Wheeling, off Route 250.