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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Celebrations in Mathura
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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.