As well as being the birthday of my Guru, Srila Prabhupada, today is also another festival day called Nandotsava. This day celebrates the birth celebration performed by Nanda Maharaja after his 'son' Krishna was born.
Here's a fascinating description of this ancient event, first celebrated in what is now called Northern India over five millenia ago. The verses were translated from the Sanskrit by Srila Prabhupada in the Tenth Canto of his colossal sixty volume work, Srimad Bhagavatam.
"The brahmanas recited auspicious Vedic hymns, which purified the environment by their vibration. The experts in reciting old histories like the Puranas, the experts in reciting the histories of royal families, and general reciters all chanted, while singers sang and many kinds of musical instruments, like dundubhis, played in accompaniment.
Vrajapura, the residence of Nanda Maharaja, was fully decorated with varieties of festoons and flags, and in different places, gates were made with varieties of flower garlands, pieces of cloth, and mango leaves. The courtyards, the gates near the roads, and everything within the rooms of the houses were perfectly swept and washed with water.
The cows, the bulls and the calves were thoroughly smeared with a mixture of turmeric and oil, mixed with varieties of minerals. Their heads were bedecked with peacock feathers, and they were garlanded and covered with cloth and golden ornaments.
The cowherd men dressed very opulently with valuable ornaments and garments such as coats and turbans. Decorated in this way and carrying various presentations in their hands, they approached the house of Nanda Maharaja.
The gopi wives of the cowherd men were very pleased to hear that mother Yasoda had given birth to a son, and they began to decorate themselves very nicely with proper dresses, ornaments, black ointment for the eyes, and so on.
Their lotuslike faces extraordinarily beautiful, being decorated with saffron and newly grown kunkuma, the wives of the cowherd men hurried to the house of mother Yasoda with presentations in their hands. Because of natural beauty, the wives had full hips and full breasts, which moved as they hurried along.
In the ears of the gopis were brilliantly polished jeweled earrings, and from their necks hung metal lockets. Their hands were decorated with bangles, their dresses were of varied colors, and from their hair, flowers fell onto the street like showers. Thus while going to the house of Maharaja Nanda, the gopis, their earrings, breasts and garlands moving, were brilliantly beautiful.
Offering blessings to the newborn child, Krishna, the wives and daughters of the cowherd men said, “May You become the King of Vraja and long maintain all its inhabitants.” They sprinkled a mixture of turmeric powder, oil and water upon the birthless Supreme Lord and offered their prayers.
Now that the all-pervading, unlimited Lord Krishna, the master of the cosmic manifestation, had arrived within the estate of Maharaja Nanda, various types of musical instruments resounded to celebrate the great festival.
In gladness, the cowherd men enjoyed the great festival by splashing one another’s bodies with a mixture of curd, condensed milk, butter and water. They threw butter on one another and smeared it on one another’s bodies.
The great-minded Maharaja Nanda gave clothing, ornaments and cows in charity to the cowherd men in order to please Lord Vishnu, and thus he improved the condition of his own son in all respects. He distributed charity to the men of all other professions, according to their educational qualifications, and satisfied everyone’s desires..."
Posted by Kurma on 28/8/05; 9:08:52 AM
from the Travel dept.