The mischievous son; the romantic lover; the compassionate friend – who does this describe? Of course Lord Krishna, who else? And, now it’s time to celebrate the day he was born. Sri Krishna Janmashtami is upon us and rather than being a sombre occasion, it is one to dance, sing and enjoy Rasleelas (plays enacting the Lord’s life) that depict Krishna’s life, in particular his love for butter and his relationships with the Gopis.
Celebrate Dwarka Style
Dwarka (Mathura), the birthplace of Krishna sees a lot of pomp. And, why shouldn’t it? After all, this was the place that gave the adorable, playful and loving Lord Krishna. They definitely have the monopoly to celebrate this event.
Krishna believers throng to the city to be part of the celebrations. Dwarka is decked up like a bride and temples devoted to Sri Krishna resonate with holy songs praising the Lord. Homes are lit up to mark the birth of the Supreme Being. The womenfolk at home prepare special foods to offer the Lord.
The story goes, Sri Krishna, as a child, loved butter and milk and was always looking for them to eat. If he couldn’t find them, he used to steal them! So, Sri Krishna Janmashtami celebrations are preparing sweetmeats with milk, butter and ghee (clarified butter).
A lot of people in Dwarka also fast from morning to night to observe this grand occasion.
Join the Widows of Vrindavan
Vrindavan is where Sri Krishna spent his childhood with friends and teasing gopis. So, in Vrindavan, Sri Krishna Janmashtami is all about enacting the events from His life through Rasleela. This tradition can be observed even today and attracts hordes of believers, who come to witness the unique performances by professional troupes. Janmashtami in Vrindavan is celebrated with a lot of fervour.
The Highlight of the Celebration
In Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai, practically every street will have a pot of yoghurt strung up high in the sky that requires a human pyramid to break it open. Well, this is enacting the way Krishna used to jump on the shoulders of his friends to reach the pot of butter His mother used to hang in the kitchen to keep it out of Krishna’s reach. This has become a tradition in Mumbai and also a major tourist attraction. For many people, Sri Krishna Janmashtami is all about the Dahi Handi, as it is called in Mumbai, where the crowd eggs the people in the pyramid to reach these high pots.
Praying Like a Devotee
On a more serious note, Janmashtami, like any other religious festival, is marked with Puja. Usually, this puja, or prayer, is offered at midnight, but can be performed in the morning too. In many homes, kids are asked to step into a rice flour paste and then made to walk from the entrance to the main door of the house. The footprints left behind by the kids are a symbol of welcoming Sri Krishna into the homes and hearts of people.
Many children, both boys and girls, dress up as Radha (Krishna’s consort) and Krishna and seeing these sweet kids just makes the occasion more festive and fun. In community centres, children-oriented programs are held, where they are taught to cook, make garlands and even design cards that focus on Lord Krishna.
Sri Krishna Janmashtami is a significant celebration among the Hindus world over. It is a day to seek the Lord’s blessings for a happy life while also rejoicing the fact that the Lord was born on this auspicious day. It is common to see long queues outside Krishna temples on Janmashtami, as devotees wait patiently with offerings.
How do you celebrate Sri Krishna Janmashtami? We would love to know.