Krishna Janmasthami Festival
Every year the entire nation of India erupts in waves of joy, love and color for Krishna Janmasthami Festival. The occasion is the celebration of the Birth anniversary of a unique being, a being known simply as Krishna. Krishna is one of the most popular Hindu deities who is said to have been born more than 5000 years ago and is credited to be an Avatar of God. Hindu mythology is replete with delightful stories of the antics of Krishna as a baby. Krishna’s lips are also the fount from which sprang the 700 verses of the Bhagvad Gita which is the cornerstone of Hindu philosophy.
Let us take a festival tour of some of the places in India where the birth anniversary of Krishna or Krishna Janmasthami festival is celebrated with traditional pomp and gaiety.
We start our journey with Mathura which lies about 90 miles to the south-east of Delhi and just about 31 miles from Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. Mathura is a city situated on the banks of the river Yamuna and this is the place where Krishna was born, many, many years ago.
The Krishna Janmasthami Festival in Mathura actually start almost a month before the actual birth day of Krishna. Prayers and ritual worship begin in the temples as well as peoples’ houses with great devotion. Courtyards are decorated with colorful Rangoli and small cradles are placed with small images of the infant Krishna in it.
All this as a welcome to the impending birth of Krishna. Another unique aspect of the festivities here is what is known as Ghatas. All the temples as well as the clothes of the idols of Krishna are decorated in the same color scheme and this is adhered to for the entire month. Rasleela or traditional dance which Krishna himself is supposed to have performed is performed by groups of boys and girls dressed in colorful and traditional attire, throughout the city.
The festivities reach their climax at midnight on the eve of the festival day, as Krishna is supposed to have been born at the stroke of the midnight hour. The idol of the infant Krishna is bathed in milk and then bedecked with colorful clothes and jewels and then put into a cradle, which is then rocked. This symbolizes the birth of Krishna. Prayers are offered along with 56 varieties of food delicacies.
This food is then distributed to the devotees who break their fast by partaking of these holy offerings.
Vrindavan which lies just about 11 kilometres from Mathura is another historical city associated with Krishna. This is the place where Krishna spent his early years with his foster parents. A temple built in the year 1590 is the oldest surviving temple here. Vrindavan is the place which was witness to the fabled and divine love of Krishna and Radha and also the place where Krishna played Rasleela with Radha and other Gopis.
During the Krishna Janmasthami celebrations, Vrindavan is submerged under waves and waves of Krishna consciousness. Plays on the lives of Radha and Krishna are enacted at various places in the city. Vrindavan dances to the mellifluous tunes from Krishna’s flute as the youth gyrate rhythmically performing Rasleela.
From Vrindavan we move on to Dwarka, situated on the western coast of India, another important place on the Krishna Circuit. Dwarka is the Kingdom that Krishna established and ruled till it was submerged under the waters of the sea. The city is said to have been made up of palaces of crystal and gold and embellished with emeralds and other precious stones in the ancient times before it bowed down to the wrath of the sea.
Celebrations of Krishna Janmasthami Festival in Dwarka include ritual worship to the idol of Krishna in the more than 2,000 year old temple. The idol is brightly decorated and adorned with jewelry and other precious stones and prayers are offered by the devotees. A fair is also held here to mark the occasion. Thousands of people throng Dwarka to participate in the celebrations.
Our journey on the Krishna trail now takes us to the bustling western metropolis of India, Mumbai.
Here too the birth anniversary of the beloved God of the Hindus is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm. However the unique and very interesting aspect of the celebrations is what is known as the Dahi Handi.
Dahi Handi has a very interesting reason behind it. Krishna as a kid was very mischievous and had a weakness for the rich butter, curds and other milk derivatives which his parents and other villagers prepared. To ensure that these were not reachable by Krishna and his friends, the grown ups stored them in earthen pots which were then hung high up on the roofs. However Krishna and his friends used to form human pyramids and reach the earthen pots and feast to their heart’s content, after breaking the pots.
This act of the innocent child Krishna is enacted symbolically across thousands of streets and alleys of Mumbai. An earthen pot filled with curd is tied at a challenging height and a human pyramid is formed to break the pot.
Krishna Janmasthami festival is indeed one of the numerous vibrant festivals that fill the soul of India with joy and color. Some of the other Indian festivals are Holi, Dussehra, Diwali, Uttarayan or Kite festival.
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Image Credits: Featured image – indianfestivalhub, Flute with peacock feather – gopikrishna.org, Krishna in cradle – Craftsvilla, Chappanbhog -funnygyan.com, Vrindavan – quora.com, Dahi handi – sanatan.org and answers.com
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