NIDHI SINGH (Rajdhani Mandir Temple, Chantilly, Virginia): In Hinduism we believe in one God. However, our one God has several forms — Brahma, who's the creator; Vishnu, who is the preserver; and Shiva, who's the destructor of all evil. Lord Krishna is a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. The teachings that Lord Krishna imparted in the [Bhagavad] Gita, I can take from them and incorporate into my life and find hope, guidance, spirituality, peace, comfort, many different things.
The devotees come here to participate and celebrate Lord Krishna's birth. When we celebrate Lord Krishna, there's a lot of singing and dancing because that's what he used to do when he was younger. There's loud chanting, and people are singing and getting very excited about the midnight hour, and we're getting ready to welcome Krishna. As the midnight hour approaches, we dim the lights. The priest comes out and actually brings a live baby in a cradle, carrying him on his head, depicting how it truly happened with Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was carried in a cradle by his father on his head to safety, to keep him safe from the evil king. What we do is called "arti," which means we take a flame, rotate it clockwise around the god, and worship him with that flame, and then that flame is offered to the congregation to take the blessings. The priests start handing out "prasada," which is God's offerings — food items, typically milk-based products, because Lord Krishna was very fond of milk and butter.
I come with all my worries, my thoughts from the outside world, everything that's on my mind. I'm giving up my ego. I'm leaving behind my worries and being reminded of God's love, of not feeling defeated by any hardship that I might be facing and getting strength to continue to do my dharma [duty] as Krishna taught — continuing to do the right things, not questioning why or what I'm going to get in return for it.