Krishna Janmashtami (also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti or sometimes merely as Janmashtami), is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, an avatar of the god Vishnu.
Krishna Janmashtami is observed on the Ashtami tithi, the eighth day of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Shraavana in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra is ascendant.
Janmaashtami, popularly known in Mumbai and Pune as Dahi Handi, is celebrated with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. The handi is a clay pot filled with buttermilk that is positioned at a convenient height prior to the event. The topmost person on the human pyramid tries to break the handi by hitting it with a blunt object. Mostly nariyal (coconut) is preferred being a sign of purity, truth etc. in Hinduism. When that happens the buttermilk is spilled over the entire group, symbolizing their achievement through unity. Handis are set up around the city, and groups of youngsters, called Govinda Pathaks, travel around in trucks trying to break as many handis as possible during the day.
In Uttar Pradesh where the lord was born in Mathura, his play ground Gokul and Vrindavan become more crowded and celebrations go up to a week. In Gujarat where the city Dwarka has Dwarkadhish temple celebrates it with pomp and joy.In Jammu,kite flying is an important part of the celebration on his day.
In the eastern state of Orissa, around Puri and West Bengal in Nabadwip, people celebrate it with fasting and doing puja at midnight. Purana Pravachana frm Bhagavata Purana are done frm the 10th Skandha which deals with pastimes of Lord Krishna. The next day is called Nanda Utsav or the joyous celebration of Nanda Maharaj and Yashoda Maharaani. On that day people break their fast and offer various cooked sweets during the early hour.
The birth of Lord Krishna was for the express purpose of re-establishing the fundamentals of faith within the hindu people. As spoken in the Bhagavad Gita by Krishna himself
yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya
i.e. whenever faith is under attack in this world, I will re-appear to protect those who are devoted to me and to re-establish faith and order.
Janmashtami Special Recipes
As Lord Krishna was very fond of sweets, milk and other milk products like butter and buttermilk, so his devotees make sweets of these products to commemorate the occasion. Sweets like Doodhachi Kheer, Pedha, Gopalkala or Gulabjamun are the major dishes prepared on Krishnashtami. Besides, Shrikhand and Singhare ki Poori are also made in households. Eatables like Murukku and Seeddai are popular in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu.
Jhulanotsava and Ghata Celebrations
A common feature of Janmashtami in North India, especially Mathura is ‘Jhulanotsava’. In this, Jhulas (swings) are hung in the courtyards of temples and houses in honour of the Lord. Another distinguishing feature of Janmashtami festival celebrations is ‘Ghatas’. This is a month long programme wherein a particular colour is selected as a theme and the entire temple is adorned with the same colour. The idol of God is also adorned with clothes of the same colour.
Dahi Handi, Raslila, Jhankis
Celebration of Sri Krishna’s birth will be incomplete without Raslila (Dance Drama). In this extremely popular and joyful drama, incidents frm Sri Krishna’s life are enacted in form of dance. In a good performance devotees are virtually transformed in to the time and age of Lord Krishna. The experience is absolutely mesmerizing.
The ritual of Dahi Handi is carried out with much fanfare and joy. Human pyramid is formed to break the Handi (Earthen Pot) suspended frm top with the help of a rope. The exciting process involves throwing water by the onlookers to prevent the boys frm breaking the earthen pot. Dahi Handi ritual is most popularly celebrated in Mumbai.
Jhankis (tableaux) are cribs and other decorations depicting the entire life of Lord Krishna right frm the time of his birth. Various jhankis include bith of Lord Krishna in jail, Vasudev,father of Lord Krishna taking out of the jail to his friend Nand, River Yamuna in floods finally bowing to the feet of Lord and making way,Exchange of Lord with the baby girl etc.
Janmashtami is celebrated with fervor all over India and with the spread of Hinduism,it is celebrated with similar emotion all across the globe.
“Sri Krishna is not a historical person; Bhagavad Geeta is not written by a historian.
The birth of Krishna is a fact repeated every moment in everybody’s life.
In and through the clamour of the lower beastly gruntings in our bosom we surely hear very often the enchanting notes of a warbling music of Truth and peace.
The divine flute player is never far away frm our bosom. To be alert to catch His melody, in and through the boisterous wooing of the baser in us, is to live the life of devotion and spiritual seeking.
To all those who sit thus in vigil, Krishna is born again and again.
Krishna is not a historical figure; He is the perpetual Truth. He does not belong to the past. He is of the ever present immediate moment.
On this Krishnashtami day, I expect everyone of you to sit in vigil waiting for His birth within the iron doors of your self-made penetentiary.