Monmouth Hindu community celebrates Krishna's birth

"If you put the offering in the fire, the smoke will rise to the heavens and carry it to God," said Guy Gundanna, vice-president of the Morganville-based Hindu-American Temple and Cultural Center.

"It's a form of wireless communications," said the 62-year-old Matawan resident, searching for a more modern explanation.

Krishna is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, who gave Hindus the guiding principles of life, known as the Bhagwat Gita. The event is equivalent to Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ for those of the Christian faith, said Nandukumar Balija, 57, of Piscataway, the temple's president.

For worshipers such as Nathan Shivakumar of East Brunswick, a 51-year-old software company president, Janmasthami is one of the most significant holy days to Hindus.