Revering Gokul ka Makhan Chor - Janmashtami: Article on Must See India : 2013 |
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Revering Gokul ka Makhan Chor - Janmashtami

by Madhav Srinivasan 5 year, 9 months ago

Janmashtami is a major Hindu festival, and it marks the birth of Lord Krishna, one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. Festivities during this time are at their peak, mainly in the northern parts of India, where Lord Krishna is said to have lived.

India is a diverse land, and the culture of India also reflects this diversity. To an outsider, the locals may seem to worship different, innumerable Gods, but every Hindu knows that each different deity is the manifestation of one Supreme Being.

As you travel across India, you may come across festivals and temples and celebrations devoted to different Gods. One deity who inspires instant, happy love and devotion among most Hindus is Krishna – the Enchanter.

The Story Behind the Festival

Krishna was born in the Hindu month of Shravana, on the eighth day of the dark fortnight. For this reason, his birthday falls between mid - August to mid-September, on the day when the Rohini Star is in ascendancy, as this is the birth star of Krishna. He was born in a prison where his parents were confined, and then was immediately taken to his foster home, Gokula, by his father.

The Celebrations and Festivities

The Orthodox Tradition

Krishna’s birth is celebrated in many different ways. The orthodox custom is to undertake a fast on the previous day, spend the night in meditation and Puja. The next morning, the fast is broken with newly prepared sweets and savories and special dishes, which are first offered to Lord Krishna.

The Celebratory Traditions

Janmashtami celebrations continue throughout the day and various stages of Krishna’s life are celebrated. The Dandia Ras or Raas Lila signifies the youthful stage of Krishna, when he would stand playing the flute and the enchanted maids of Gokula (Cowherd Village) would dance around him in ecstasy.

The pot breaking festival, known as Dahi Handi in the North and Uriadi in Tamil Nadu, signifies the childhood pranks of Krishna, when he would get into neighbors’ homes and steal their butter and curd, for himself and all his friends.

Besides these, music, dance and drama form a part of the festivities, celebrating different aspects of Lord Krishna’s life. Religious discourses are held, with stories from the Bhagavatham and Mahabharatha highlighting Krishna’s life being retold.

Celebrations in Mathura

Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna, lies 145 km from Delhi. The festivities are held around the Krishna Janma Bhoomi temple, where he was actually born. Devotees observe strict fasts on the day before the festival, breaking it at midnight.

Then the celebrations begin. The idol of Baby Krishna is bathed and then dressed up and put in a cradle. A number of dishes are prepared as offerings to the Lord, and devotees break their fast on such Prasad after the Pujas have been done and the food has been offered to the Lord.

The whole of Mathura is decorated in a festive manner and the Raas Lila is reenacted, with young boys dressed as Krishna performing the Raas dance. Devotees fall at the feet of these boys in reverence, considering them to be incarnations of the deity. Throughout Mathura, you can also see beautiful Jhankis - scenes depicting incidents from the life of Krishna.

Celebrations in Vrindavan

Located 15 km away from Mathura is Vrindavan, where Krishna spent his childhood till he was 12 years old. Vrindavan is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus through the year, but during Janmashtami, Vrindavan comes vibrantly alive with joyous celebrations marking the birth of Krishna.

Dramas depicting many of Krishna’s deeds are performed, along with Raas Lila throughout the town. Each household in Mathura also celebrates, preparing various delicacies to welcome the birth of the Lord. Bhajans and chants keep echoing all through the town. Here, the celebrations last for days.

Krishna’s life was a celebration, and He is considered the most easily accessible form of the Supreme. His Enchanting Lilas charm millions of devotes, and Janmashtami is one of the major festivals of India, for this reason.

Festivities in Temples

Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated with special fervor in the region of Braj Bhumi, the play field of Lord Krishna and in the other places where he lived and wherever there is a Krishna Temple. The celebrations last for several days in places like Mathura, Vrindavan, and Gokul in Uttar Pradesh.

In Dwaraka in Gujarat, in the Govindaji Temple and ISKCON Temple in Manipur, the Puri Jagannath Temple in Orissa, in Nabadwip in West Bengal, in Udupi, Karnataka, in Guruvayoor in Kerala – Janmashtami marks the most important time of the year. A visit to the many Krishna temples during this time can help you experience Indian heritage and culture at its finest. 

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