India - Krishna Janmaashtemi Festival

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Krishna Janmaashtemi Festival

Indians keep celebrating festivals throughout the year. Each festival has its own unique way of celebration and thus adds to the excitement.

The festival of Krishna Janmastami (also known as Srikrishna Jayanti, Gokulaashtami, "Krishnaashtami and Sree Jayanti) is celebrated in August. It is a Hindu festival primarily celebrated in western and northern India.

Krishna Janmastami is a festival meant to celebrate the birth of the Hindu mythological God, Lord Krishna, who is a symbol of youth and romance in the Hindu religion.

Lord Krishna, according to the legend in Mahabharata, used to steal curd, milk and butter from the village houses. This was done by forming pyramids with his gang of boys in order to reach the pot of curd, milk, or butter, hanging high on a rope.

It is because of this reason, that even now Janmaashtemi is celebrated by breaking pots that are hung very high on the ropes (about 30-60 feet high), in a similar way. There is butter in the pot and the boy climbing up the human pyramid is supposed to ‘steal’ it. There is much excitement and commotion as the small boys go on trying to reach it. Amid much fanfare he does manage it in the end.

The entire activity is witnessed by the whole community, which comes out on the streets. The atmosphere is fun filled and there are pranks played everywhere, it is somewhat like the carnivals of the west. There are prizes running into lakhs for the ‘butter stealer’ and he becomes the local hero, till next year when someone else may upstage him.

People keep a fast on this day and at midnight when Lord Krishna was supposed to be born; there are special prayers and offerings. After the prayers, people break their fast and there is a feast. Many types of delicacies are prepared for the occasion, but butter is compared the most important dish because the lord loved to have fresh butter.

In many homes and temples ‘jhakis’ are set up. Small toy like figurines are brought from the market and are arranged artistically depicting the entire life history of the Lord. There are swings installed for the Lord and his idol is placed on it and gently swung.

All this is enacted in the faith that when lord Krishna was a boy he was the naughtiest one around and when he became young he was the most romantic man possible. Later, in his more mature span of life he performed the duties of a family man and a competent king. Lord Krishna is the personification of all the perfect stages of a man’s life!


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