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Krishna's Leela at Play in Penngrove

It was a hot Sunday in August but despite the heat there was a lot of anticipation and excitement for the first joint, in-person event between NBIAA and NBHC since 2019.

Dr. Sandeep Sharma and Sema Birla-Sharma's residence in Penngrove offered the perfect atmosphere for the Krishna Janmasthami festivities. The backyard was quite large and the main stage was decorated with statues of Krishna. We also had a swing with bells that the Sharma family had decorated with the idol of baby Krishna inside it. Due to COVID precautions, attendance was limited to 75 guests but they came with the energy of Krishna's herders and gopis.

At the beginning of the puja, we had a cute visitor, Tedesh Prashar who was a perfect representation of naughty Krishna. He graced the occasion by taking a bit of an apple from the puja thali. It was as though Krishna was teasing us through his Leela in the form of the young, naughty Tedesh.

The program was held on Sunday, August 29, 2021 from 10 AM - 12 PM and featured an aspect catered to all ages. NBHC focused its efforts on the puja and NBIAA played the major role in terms of logistics, food and social aspects of the program.

Starting with a wonderful Krishna puja, Pandit Yogeshji invited us to chant the ashtottara shatanamavali (108 names) of Krishna, offering rice and flowers for each name chanted. Aarti and several bhajans (Purandara Dasa / Tamil and Meera Bhajan / Hindi) were led by Jayashree Ayyar from NBHC. This was followed by a group Gujurati bhajan. Prasad in the form of the panchamrita (5 ingredient amrit) was prepared and offered by Haritha Madadi.

Food was provided by India Curry House in San Francisco (owner Brahma Swami, also a resident of Cotati), which included poori, aloo sabzi, choley, biryani and sooji halwa. He also arranged for one of the highlights of the event - makhan matki and calf-petting.

The event was organized by both NBIAA and NBHC, demonstrating both organization's joint will to serve our North Bay community in harmony and great spirit. If this event was any indication, attendees were excited for more in-person events jointly organized by both organizations. As NBHC President Radhika Sitaraman pointed out, "it came off as a very good collaboration, a win-win situation. We hope that in the future we will be motivated because of this success to do more such events so that it will benefit the community."

Jai Shri Krishna!

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