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Saturday, 31 August, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Hindu festival attracts thousands
Festival
Festival goers enjoying music, dance and drama
One of the biggest Hindu gatherings to be held outside India is underway in Watford.

Up to 50,000 people are expected to celebrate over the weekend at a temple donated by the former Beatle George Harrison.

The temple is hosting one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu calendar, the festival of Janmashtami.

It marks the birth of Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu.

Atmanivedan Swami
Atmanivedan Swami is a senior devotee

About 10% of Britain's Hindu community are expected to converge on the grounds of Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna temple over the weekend.

Atmanivedan Swami, a senior devotee said the organisers were expecting up to 50,000 people.

"This celebration is equivalent to Christmas for Christians," he said.

"We celebrate this every year in the month of August.

"It is a day to remember God and his grace upon us."

He explained that the most important part of the day will be at midnight when Krishna's birth actually took place.

He said the manor's grounds had been transformed with places for meditation and performance.

Harrison - who died last November after losing a battle with cancer - donated the manor to Srila Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in 1973.

The Hare Krishna movement is part of the ancient Vaishnava tradition, a faith within Hinduism.

It was founded by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who first brought the Krishna tradition from India to the west in 1965.

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Gauri Das, Watford temple president
"The queues to get into the temple room are getting longer and longer"
Atmanivedas Swamim, senior devotee
"This is the equivalent of what Christmas is for Christians"

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See also:

30 Aug 02 | England
21 Aug 02 | England
12 Jul 02 | South Asia
26 Mar 02 | Entertainment
14 Nov 01 | England
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