Devotees of Krishna celebrate New Year in a Krishna conscious way. They welcome New Year by chanting the holy names of Krishna. On the New Year day, the first activity they do is that they visit temple to take darshan of the Lord.
The darshan of the Lord opens at 4:30 am in most of the Iskcon temples of the world. Hundreds of devotees congregate early in the morning on 1st January in the temple. They want to begin their New Year by seeing the most beautiful form of Lord Krishna and Srimati Radharani.
Devotional activities in the morning of New Year
With the blow of the conch shell, ringing of the bell and with the loud chant of Hare Krishna the curtain of the altar opens exactly at 4:30 am. Lord Krishna and Srimati Radharani appears in front of the assembled devotees.
Everyone bows down and pay obeisances to the Lord. In the heart everyone prays to Krishna and Radha to shower their mercy upon them. They pray to the divine couple so that in this New Year they always remain under their divine shelter.
Mangala Arati begins. Everyone participates. They sing, they dance, and they pray.
After Mangala Arati devotees take part in Narasimha Arati. They pray to Lord Narasimha Dev to remove all the obstacles from their devotional life.
Then there is Tulasi Arati. Devotees bow down to Tulasi Maharani and say the following prayer
“Vrindayai Tulasi devyai priyayai kesavasya cha
Vishnu bhaktiprade devi satyavatyai namo namaha”
“I offer my repeated obeiances to Vrinda, Srimati Tulasi Devi, who is very dear to Lord Keshava (Krishna). O goddess, you bestow devotional service to Lord Krishna and possess the highest truth.”
Tulasi is very dear to Krishna. She is an intimate associate of Krishna and always engaged in serving Krishna. So, devotees pray to Tulasi Maharani to engage them in the service of Krishna.
Chanting, hearing & enjoying prasadam in New Year
After morning arati devotees sit down in the temple to chant the Hare Krishna maha – mantra. Many new people who come to the temple also participate in chanting the holy names of Krishna.
Devotees also attend Srimad Bhagavatam class.
And everyone enjoys delicious Krishna prasadam on the New Year day.
At home too devotees celebrate New Year in a devotional way
The devotees who are not able to come to temple organize special program at their homes.
This year because of Coronavirus many devotees won’t be able to go to temple. But everyone will celebrate New Year at their homes in a Krishna conscious way. The activities will remain the same. They will sing Mangala arati, Narasimha arati, Tulasi arati, chant the Hare Krishna maha – mantra, read Srimad Bhagavatam and will honour Krishna prasadam.
For the devotees New Year begins with chanting, dancing and enjoying delicious Krishna prasadam. It is the best way to celebrate New Year.
Krishna conscious spiritual programs on the eve of New Year
On the eve of New Year also, many spiritual programs are organized in the temple. Even congregation devotees arrange devotional programs at their homes and invite other devotees.
Nagar Sankirtan in Pune on the eve of New Year
I remember in Pune HH Loknath Swami Maharaj used to organize nagar sankirtan on 31st Dec night. We were in colleges and every one of us used to be excited to participate in the nagar sankirtan. We used to sing and dance on the way while chanting the names of Krishna. Firecrackers were lit. Of course, the firecrackers were ecofriendly. So, while chanting the names of Krishna we used to welcome New Year.
While we used to sing and chant the holy names of Krishna, we used to see many people in restaurants & pub celebrating New Year. They used to drink liquor, smoke cigarettes, eat nonveg, listen to movie songs. Materialistic people’s idea of celebration ultimately leads them to the path of degradation.
But devotees’ idea of celebration is to do everything as per the guidelines of the scriptures. They always keep Krishna in the centre. So, all activities become spiritual. It helps us to advance in spiritual life.
Spiritual picnic on the eve of New Year at Iskcon New Town, Kolkata
Devotees even organize picnic on 31st December. In Iskcon New Town Kolkata temple for last couple of years spiritual picnic is being organized. Devotees come together and cook together. Many devotees use their culinary skills to prepare different varieties of food for the Lord. For children games are organized. There is bonfire. Spiritual songs are sung. Special delicacies are prepared and offered to the Lord. And later the offered prasadam is served to all. Its festive atmosphere.
You might be wondering why devotees of Krishna celebrate New Year according to Gregorian calendar.
Why devotees of Krishna celebrate New Year?
It is true that the Vedic calendar is different from Gregorian calendar. So, our New Year does not begin on Jan 1st. For Gaudiya Vaisnavas, New Year begins from the day of Gaur Purnima i.e. the appearance day of Lord Chaitanya.
However, the beauty of Krishna Consciousness is that whatever be the occasion it can be used to grow in spiritual life.
In one of the classes HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj explains that Iskcon organizes New Year programs so that devotees do not have to explore other avenues to celebrate. And the festivity even attracts new people who can later become devotees of Krishna.
In fact, for a devotee of Krishna, every day is a day of celebration.
Srila Prabhupada says that for a devotee of Krishna every day is a New Year.
Srila Prabhupada: Our Every Day is a New Year
During a morning walk Srila Prabhupada said, “Well, our every day is a New Year. Nava-navayauvana. Our Krishna consciousness is so nice, the more you advance, you see new year, new year. That’s all. Nothing is old. People are seeing that they are simply chanting the old slogan, Hare Krishna. But we are feeling new pleasure in every moment. Take any other chanting, you cannot chant more than few hours. But the Hare Krishna mantra we can chant perpetually. So, unless there is new enlightenment, how we can do that?” (Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, Los Angeles, January 3, 1974)
This is the glory of spiritual life. Every moment becomes a moment of celebration. Krishna’s devotees do not have to wait for the New Year to arrive. For them, every day is a New Year. Because every moment they experience new transcendental pleasure.
Material world always bring miseries
Materialistic people wait for New Year. New Year means new hope. They hope that in the New Year they will be able to lead a better life. They will have better health, better relationship. There will not be any job insecurity and no financial challenges.
But the nature of this world is such that it defeats us again and again. It frustrates us. At the beginning of 2020 no one would have thought that a tiny little coronavirus will kill thousands of people all over the world. It will shut down the entire world. People who died because of the Coronavirus would have never thought about it. But such calamities keep on coming. It reminds us that how vulnerable we are in this material world.
No matter how hard we try we cannot be happy without Krishna.
Devotees of Krishna remain free from misery
A devotee of Krishna knows that this material world is extremely dangerous. So, he always remains under the shelter of Krishna. And Krishna never disappoints his devotees. He always protects his devotees.
When a devotee takes shelter of Krishna, he sees that Krishna personally intervenes to protect him. He experiences Krishna’s mercy. He sees that Krishna is so loving and so caring that he will never allow him to suffer in this world. He develops complete faith in Krishna. He knows that whatever be the situations and circumstances, Krishna will always be with him.
In Krishna’s shelter he enjoys his life. In this world he is happy by living as per the guidelines of Krishna. And after leaving this world he joins Krishna in the spiritual world and enjoys his life there.
Devotees of Krishna celebrate every moment
This is thebeauty of Krishna conscious spiritual life. Bliss is guaranteed. One experiences new pleasure every moment. And that pleasure is unlimited. The so-called happiness of this material world is temporary and not satiating. In fact, the happiness which we experience in this world is mere absence of pain.
But the joy which a devotee gets in practicing devotion to Krishna is so riveting that the seeker wants it more and more. In fact, a devotee feels complete satisfaction just by chanting the names of Krishna. He does not want anything else.
Like a chataka bird which desperately waits for a drop of rain to quench its thirst, a devotee of Krishna longs to quench the thirst of his heart with the holy names of Krishna.
Srila Rupa Goswami used to experience so much happiness by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra that he wanted to chant it again and again. He desperately used to beg to Krishna, “O Krishna! Give me millions of tongues and millions of ears, so that I can relish the unlimited joy I am experiencing in chanting your holy names.”
Such pleasure awaits us too. We can also celebrate every moment of our life. The only requirement is that we have to become a sincere devotee of Krishna.
Materially speaking every New Year brings us closer to death. And none of us want to die.
But a devotee of Krishna comes closer to Krishna every moment.
In this world he remains free from all sufferings and remain joyful. And as promised by Krishna in BG 8.15 – 16, after this life he returns to the abode of Krishna which is filled with unlimited bliss. In the kingdom of Krishna there are no diseases, no old age and no death.
“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.” Bhagavad Gita 8.15
What spiritual resolution to take this New Year?
In New Year people take resolutions. So, this New Year, we should take a resolution that in year 2021, we will become a better devotee of Krishna. We will chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra with utmost sincerity. No matter whatever be the situations and circumstances we will never give up chanting. We will live as per the guidelines of the scriptures.
Lord Chaitanya who is none other than Krishna came to teach us about the need of living a Krishna Conscious life. He taught us how to become a devotee of Krishna. He has asked us to continuously chant the names of Krishna.
In his Siksastakam prayers he has explained in detail about the glories and potency of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Chanting cleanses our hearts of all the impurities and helps us to develop love for Krishna. And once we attain this state then our every moment will be a moment of celebration. And our every day will be a New Year.
So, if we want to celebrate every moment of our life then we have to become a better devotee of Krishna. We have to practice devotional life with sincerity and seriousness.
Let us show our sincerity to Krishna from the first day of New Year.
Let us celebrate New Year by completely engaging in Krishna conscious spiritual activities.
Following eight spiritual activities, we must do in the morning of New Year for a wonderful life.
8 Krishna conscious spiritual activities to do in the morning of New Year
- The first activity which we should do in the morning of New Year is to take darshan of the beautiful form of Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna.
- We should pay our respectful obeisances to the divine couple.
- We should meditate upon the lotus feet of Krishna.
- We should earnestly beg Krishna for his shelter.
- We should pray that we always remain absorbed in practicing devotion to him throughout the year.
- We should sincerely chant the holy names of Krishna i.e. the Hare Krishna maha – mantra in the morning.
- We should hear the words spoken by Krishna or about Krishna i.e. read or hear Srimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavad Gita.
- And we should offer nice food to Krishna in the morning and then eat the prasadam (spiritual food).
If we begin New Year in a Krishna conscious way, then our entire year will be full of happiness.