The roads, streets and lanes of Hastināpura were all sprinkled with fragrant water through the trunks of intoxicated elephants. In different places of the city there were colorful festoons and flags decorating the houses and streets. At important crossroads there were gates with golden decorations, and at the two sides of the gates there were golden water jugs. These beautiful decorations glorified the opulence of the city. Participating in this great ceremony, all the citizens gathered here and there, dressed in colorful new clothing and decorated with ornaments, flower garlands and fragrant scents. The houses were all illuminated by hundreds and thousands of lamps placed in different corners of the cornices, walls, columns, bases and architraves, and from far away the rays of the lamps appeared to be celebrating the festival of Dīpāvalī (a particular festival observed on the New Year’s Day of the Hindu calendar). Within the walls of the houses, fragrant incense was burning, and smoke rose through the windows, making the entire atmosphere very pleasing. On the top of every house, flags were flapping, and the golden waterpots kept on the roofs shone brilliantly.
Lord Kṛṣṇa thus entered the city of the Pāṇḍavas, enjoyed the beautiful atmosphere and slowly proceeded ahead. When the young girls in every house heard that Lord Kṛṣṇa, the only object worth seeing, was passing on the road, they were very eager to see this all-famous personality. Their hair loosened, and their tightened saris became slack due to their hastily rushing to see Him. They gave up their household engagements, and those who were lying in bed with their husbands immediately left them and came directly down onto the street to see Lord Kṛṣṇa. The procession of elephants, horses, chariots and infantry was very crowded; some of the girls, being unable to see properly in the crowd, got up on the roofs of the houses. Pleased to see Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa passing with His thousands of queens, they showered flowers on the procession, embraced Lord Kṛṣṇa within their minds and gave Him a hearty reception. When they saw Him in the midst of His many queens, like the full moon situated amidst many luminaries, they began to talk amongst themselves.
One girl said to another, “My dear friend, it is very difficult to guess what kind of pious activities these queens have performed, for they are always enjoying the smiling face and loving glances of Kṛṣṇa.” While Lord Kṛṣṇa was thus passing on the road, at intervals some of the citizens, who were all rich, respectable and freed from sinful activities, presented auspicious articles to the Lord, just to offer Him a reception to the city. Thus they worshiped Him as humble servitors.
When Lord Kṛṣṇa entered the palace, all the ladies there were overwhelmed with affection just upon seeing Him. They immediately received Lord Kṛṣṇa with glittering eyes expressing their love and affection for Him, and Lord Kṛṣṇa smiled and accepted their feelings and gestures of reception. When Kuntī, the mother of the Pāṇḍavas, saw her nephew Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, she was overpowered by love and affection. She at once got up from her bedstead and appeared before Him with her daughter-in-law, Draupadī, and in maternal love and affection she embraced Him. As Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira brought Kṛṣṇa within the palace, the King became so confused in his jubilation that he practically forgot what he was to do at that time to receive Kṛṣṇa and worship Him properly. Lord Kṛṣṇa delightfully offered His respects and obeisances to Kuntī and other elder ladies of the palace. His younger sister, Subhadrā, was also standing there with Draupadī, and both offered their respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of the Lord. At the indication of her mother-in-law, Draupadī brought clothing, ornaments and garlands, and with this paraphernalia they received the queens Rukmiṇī, Satyabhāmā, Bhadrā, Jāmbavatī, Kālindī, Mitravindā, Lakṣmaṇā and the devoted Satyā. These principal queens of Lord Kṛṣṇa were first received, and then the other queens were also offered a proper reception. King Yudhiṣṭhira arranged for Kṛṣṇa’s rest and saw to it that all who came along with Him—namely His queens, soldiers, ministers and secretaries—were comfortably situated. He had arranged that they would experience a new feature of reception every day while staying as guests of the Pāṇḍavas.
It was during this time that Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, with the help of Arjuna, allowed the fire-god, Agni, to devour the Khāṇḍava forest for his satisfaction. During the forest fire, Kṛṣṇa saved the demon Mayāsura, who was hiding in the forest. Upon being saved, Mayāsura felt obliged to the Pāṇḍavas and Lord Kṛṣṇa, and he constructed a wonderful assembly house within the city of Hastināpura. To please King Yudhiṣṭhira, Lord Kṛṣṇa remained in the city of Hastināpura for several months. During His stay, He enjoyed strolling here and there. He used to drive on chariots with Arjuna, and many warriors and soldiers used to follow them.