Thousands celebrate Janmashtami festival at former home of Beatle George Harrison

September 2, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Over 55,000 people are expected to descend on a tiny British village over the next few days – to take part in the largest Hindu festival outside India.

The holiday of Janmashtami marks the birth of the god Krishna and is celebrated in the tiny Hertfordshire village of Letchmore Heath.

The village has a population of around 470 but this swells to over 55,000 every year when Hindus descend on Bhaktivedanta Manor.

The house, which was once owned by Beatle George Harrison, contains a shrine to the god Krishna where revellers offer prayers.

Radha Mohan, who is spokesman for the manor, revealed that ”everyone is welcome” to attend the free festival.

He said: ”We are expecting at least 55,000 to arrive over the two days and that makes this the largest festival of it’s kind in the world outside India.

”There is entertainment, displays, drama, processions, dance, theatre and free vegetarian food – people have a lot of fun here.

”Many people offer prayers at the shrines and we have a beautiful shrine in the temple where people queue to pray.

”The festival is mainly British but people have come from all over the world and everyone is welcome.”

The Janmashtami began at Bhaktivedanta Manor in 1973 when just 250 people attended including Beatle George Harrison and Eric Clapton.

Harrison later donated the manor house with 78 acres of land, including formal gardens and a lake, to the Hare Krishna movement.

Since then the annual festival, which is free to attend, has grown in size and now hosts tens of thousands of revellers for two days.

The theme of the festival is food for the body and spirit and it ran from midday before closing in the early hours of this morning.

The festival will reopen again at midday on Sunday before closing in the early hours of Monday morning.

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