The world’s largest Janmashtami festival outside of India at Bhaktivedanta Manor attracted more than 60,000 pilgrims on 21st and 22nd August. This year celebrated the launch of the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation, which sells milk from cows that will be retired when their milking days are over and uses bulls to work the land.
Ahimsa means non-violence and the not-for-profit company has just begun distributing slaughter-free, organic milk in the London area in time to celebrate the birthday of Krishna, who was the guardian of cows.
The Foundation has a herd in Kent, but takes its inspiration for cow protection from the Manor’s farm, which supplies the temple with milk and dairy products from its Meuse Rhine Issel and Dairy Short-horn cows. No cow, calf or bull is ever killed and all are allowed to live out their natural lives.
Ahimsa Slaughter-free Milk costs £2:25 a litre and there is a 15p additional charge for doorstep delivery.
As pilgrims entered the huge festival site, they passed through the new farm complex which has been recognized as a blue-print for compassionate and sustainable farming which will change the way people think about how their food is produced.
Radhanath Swami was the principle guest at the event.
“I have noticed people are beginning to care more about what they consume and how it got to their plate,” said the farm manager Syamasundar das , “The belief in the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ shows the change in people’s awareness that they are beginning to care more how food and drink is produced,”
When talking about the Janmashtami festival, The President of Bhaktivedanta Manor Srutidharma Das said: “It is a festival of peace in what are troubled times. Krishna protected cows as sacred animals and we are delighted to be celebrating the cow at this year’s festival. Ahimsa is a very important belief in our tradition and the cow symbolises peace and prosperity in society. When the relationship between humans and cattle is correct everything in the world is in harmony.”
The festival featured hundreds of children with their faces painted blue, many carrying flutes and wearing peacock feathers in their hair, dressing like Lord Krishna as part of the festive spirit.
Another highlight included a flowered walkway through the spiritual gardens and woodland. Visitors will journey through the life and pastimes of Lord Krishna climaxing with a glimpse of the spectacular deity of Krishna decorated with thousands of flowers.
The entire festival is managed and run by 1500 volunteers from the community who gather every evening after work for a month prior to the event and put in countless hours of hard work for the occasion.