At ISKCON temple in Chandigarh: Feasting and fasting for Lord Krishna

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Devotees give at sector-6 temple in Panchkula on Friday. (Express Photo: Jaipal Singh)

It was both faith and temptation, of the culinary kind that drew us to the ISKCON temple in Sector 36 on Friday afternoon. The temple, abuzz with activity and adorned with fresh flowers and lights, had small sections that depicted Krishna s life.

Everyone was in a celebratory mood, preparing to usher in Janmashtami.

A monk lad us to the basement, where we were served the parsada, a wholesome and delicious meal of rajmah-chawal and mixed vegetables. On these days, the kitchen keeps churning out delicacies, as we cater to lakhs of devotes, volunteers and visitors from outside, who all eat with us. Apart from fruits and coconut, we have a variety of dishes that are all cooked here with a team of specialists who are known for their temple cooking. The preparations for dry parsada begins weeks before Janamashtami, explained Akru Nandan Das, the vice-president.

Krishna is offered a variety of milk shakes to lemonade, sweet water preparations, and potato parsada to a meal of sambar-idli as the maha parsada, seven times a day. As many as 100 items are made for the special day. It is a spread like none other, complete with varieties of cakes, cookies, dhoklas, traditional Indian meals, kheer, a range of sweets, namkeens

We are fasting, the Lord isn t, but later, it is all shared with everyone over the next two-three days. The dry parsada is also given in the temple. What makes the food so delicious is the love and devotion with which it is prepared, with no compromises, said Das, as he generously invited us to taste and share the effort on Saturday and Sunday.