on Sept. 23, 2011
“… I came as a devotee myself…. So I am one of you!”
Those were the words of the High Commissioner of India to Nigeria, His Excellency Sri Mahesh Sachdev in Jos, the Plateau state capital at the celebration of Sri Krishna Janmastami hosted by ISKCON, Jos, Gwarandok.
According to the envoy, India and Nigeria relations is stronger than ever as can be discerned from the great celebration of Lord Sri Krishna’s birth by the Nigerian devotees and the Indian community in Jos, and those from Maiduguri, Bauchi and Abuja.
The Indian envoy who was on his first visit to Jos was full of appreciation to ISKCON Jos saying “when I got invitation from ISKCON to celebrate Sri Krishna Janmastami (the birth of Lord Krishna) who is one of the primordial deities of Hinduism, I could not refuse! I would also like to once again reiterate our combine
gratitude for the welcome that you have given us a people and the open arms that ISKCON has offered us.”
According to him, “I was drawn to their festivities and being my first visit to Jos, I am impressed by the devotion and humanity of the temple management; the priests and devotees (Nigerians as well as the Indian community) of which you (the press) have witnessed yourselves.”
Sri Mahesh Sachdev who was visibly impressed with the entertainment performance of the movement’s children and the various vegetarian and Indian cuisines served stated that “I can hardly forget to greet the young citizens of the movement who have stolen our hearts by their very profound depiction of lilas and avataras through alphabets and devotional hymns and hope that they grow up as devotees by following in the tradition set up by their illustrious families”.
An elated Salika Das, President of the Jos temple who welcomes the envoy and his entourage thanked the High Commissioner and the Indian community for their continued support which made the celebration a success especially at a time when the state was engulf in a state of violence in form of killings and wanton destruction of properties.
He also commended the Indian High Commission, saying that the presence of the Indian Envoy as the Honored Guest at this year’s celebration reiterates the warm relationship between the Indian High Commission and the ISKCON temple in Jos ; while also stating that the then Acting High Commissioner in the person of His Excellency Sri Anil Trigunayat also joined the host of devotees from all over the West African sub-Region some five years back on 11th June 2006 to inaugurate the new temple hall and install the beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai. Hence, the invitation to His Excellency to be part of the festivities.
He also enjoined the High Commissioner to assist the movement in having a temple in the nation’s capital saying “it is our passionate appeal that you ultimately help us actualize the desire of our Gurudev to establish a Radha Krishna Temple in Abuja (the country’s capital) soonest by garnering support for this laudable cause” to which the envoy also promised to assist.
The celebration which got wide media coverage from the press also had Aniruddha Das and Sada Siva Prabhu as compares.
According to guests at the occasion, “the celebrations this year was infused with so much dynamism, entertainments, jokes, poems and banter among the devotees while maintaining the spiritual essence and the mode of Janmasthami”
The state owned media (Plateau Radio/TV) which also joined others to cover the event ran a 12hours newsflash on radio every half hour before the 4pm news on radio and 6pm news on TV. The news on TV featured a 3minutes extract of the Janmasthami festivities in which the newscaster described ISKCON as “a gathering of
people committed to conscious service to God” and Krishna consciousness as “the religion of the soul.”
The correspondent reporting to the studio went into the history of the movement and traced its root to the Vedic culture which he reports as “a tradition of disciplic succession as old as humanity.” The clip also featured the Abishek, Yajna, the entertainment by the young devotees, the launching of the Janmasthami souvenir magazine by the High Commissioner who also was covered making coconut offering and Ghee lamp as well as the cutting of the anniversary cake by the High Commissioner, assisted by the children whom His Excellency also personally served the cake in all humility and fatherly affection.
The Honored Guest who had travelled the 3hour drive from the country’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, stayed over 4 and half hour while relishing assorted Mahaprasadam along with other devotees.
The High Commissioner was also presented with a package which includes Bhagavad Gita and other Srila Prabhupada Books just as he also presented Vedic story books to the children and magazines to others.
Other dignitaries at the Janmasthami celebration include embassy officials; the Indian community in Jos, these from Bauchi, Abuja and Kano as well as notable Nigerians which includes Dr. Denis Okolie (Retired Chief Medical Director, University of Jos Teaching Hospital “JUTH”) University Dons from UNIJOS and Benue State University, community leaders among others.