(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Thousands of expatriates marked Janmashtami, the annual Hindu festival celebrating the birth of deity Krishna, with various events across Abu Dhabi.
Festivities started at the BAPS Hindu Mandir site and various associations across the capital and Al Ain during the evening hours. The celebrations included singing devotional songs, recitation of holy book Bhagavad Gita, praying together for peace and harmony, dance-drama plays, swinging the cradle of baby Krishna and more.
There were close to 4,000 devotees at the BAPS Hindu Mandir site. "The festival is a celebration of the victory of good over evil and one that reminds us of our personal responsibility to live righteous lives," volunteer Pranav Desai said.
BAPS Hindu Mandir priests and officials thanked the UAE and Indian leadership for the historic and first-of-its-kind festival.
"We are all blessed to be living in a nation that supports the universal values of tolerance and harmony," said senior priest of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Swami Brahmaviharidas.
"I believe this is as much a celebration of this Year of Tolerance and it is of Janmashtami," said BAPS Hindu Mandir chairman Dr B.R. Shetty.
Vipul, Consul-General of India in Dubai, attending on behalf of Navdeep Singh Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said the upcoming temple and the festival were symbols of the shared values and friendship between the two nations.
Business and community leaders Yogesh Mehta, Sudhir Shetty, Paras Shahdadpuri, Ram Tolani, Ram Buxani and others from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman were present.
In another event, some 2,500 blue-collar workers from various workers' accommodations took part in an event hosted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Sidhagauranga Dasa, 'yatra' leader of the Abu Dhabi event, said most of the devotees were from Mussafah and Bani Yas. "This is one day when we bring all these devotees from workers' accommodations. ISKCON Abu Dhabi started in 1994 and this is our silver jubilee year."
Rahul Duggal, ISKCON Abu Dhabi, said devotees were from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
Workers felt blessed to be part of the festival. "I am taking part in these festivities for the past few years. We are thankful to the UAE leaders," said Vikas Dev and his friends, who came from Mussaffah to attend the festival.