Bangladesh observes Janmashtami with prayers for an end to pandemic

The Hindu community is observing Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna, with prayers for salvation from the socio-economic crisis wrought by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The celebrations of Janmashtami, one of the biggest religious festivals of Hindus, has been restricted to temples as per government orders while the colourful rallies that typically mark the occasion were also absent this year due to the pandemic.

Swami Taponananda Giri Maharaj, principal of Sitakunda Monastery and Mission in Chattogram, conducted the rituals commemorating the day at National Dhakeshwari Temple on Monday.

"God has always appeared on earth to nurture what is good and bring an end to evil," he said.

“Today, during this coronavirus epidemic, we pray to Lord Krishna for a world free of diseases and the darkness of ignorance. We pray that the pandemic ends and the world is restored to a place mutual love and friendship among its inhabitants.”

Milon Kanti Dutta, president of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, also prayed for a quick to the coronavirus crisis and a return to normalcy.

With this, the Hindu community has started the preparations for Durga Puja, their biggest religious festival, said Kishore Ranjan Mondal, general secretary of Mohanagar Sarbajanin Puja Committee.

“Today we pray to Lord Krishna for a healthy and happy world.”

The main prayer ceremony for Janmashtami will be held at Dhakeshwari Temple at 8 pm on Monday, said Kishore Ranjan.

Lord Krishna was born on the eighth (ashtami) day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadra (August–September) in Mathura, according to Hindu beliefs. He came to this world with a mission to establish the principles of truth and righteousness while bringing victory to virtuous people against their oppressors.

Devotees usually fast on the day of Janmashtami to purge themselves of sins and attain virtue.

In his message to the Hindu community on Janmashtami, President Abdul Hamid, “Lord Krishna was the emblem of humanity and a social activist. His mantra was to establish a society free of oppression and evil while creating bonds of love and friendship.”

He urged citizens to work towards strengthening communal harmony to ensure the prosperity of the country.

“Communal harmony is a cornerstone of Bangladesh. We all have to maintain this tradition and uphold the camaraderie. All religions have human welfare as their core value. I urge the people from all religious communities in the country to strengthen the existing communal harmony and friendship in order to propel the nation to progress and prosperity,” he said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted the virtues of equality and universal brotherhood that Lord Krishna sought to establish. "He worked throughout his life to ensure peace, love and righteousness. Lord Krishna’s ideology and teachings will strengthen the thousand-year-old communal harmony, friendship and brotherhood among the Bengali people.

"In this Janmashtami festival, I hope his followers will be inspired to embrace his philosophy.”

Hasina urged devotees to maintain social distancing norms while observing Janmashtami amid the coronavirus epidemic.