Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations in the Country•
Posted on August 09 2022
Krishna Janmashtami or Gokul Ashtami as the festival is otherwise called is celebrated with full zeal and enthusiasm by Hindus all over the country, especially Vrindavan and Mathura as these were the places where Lord Krishna spent His days. The celebration marks the birth of Lord Krishna who is one of their favourite gods and is very important in the Vaishnavism tradition. He was born as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva in the dungeons of Kamsa’s kingdom in Mathura and raised by Yashoda and Nanda in Vrindavan. The festival occurs in the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada Masa between August and September and is usually eight days after the equally popular Raksha Bandhan festival.
Lord Krishna is considered to be the god of love, protection, tenderness and compassion. Temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna as well as the houses of devotees of Lord Krishna come to life on this day. While temples are beautifully lit and decorated, devotees also embellish their homes with diyas, flowers and lights. Some devotees also bathe an idol of the lord at midnight and place it in a cradle. This is because it is believed that Lord Krishna was born on midnight. There are also several dance-drama enactments that portray the life of the deity.Unique Celebrations
Some states have a few unique celebrations that make the festival all the livelier and more memorable. The Dahi Handi is an important ritual associated with the festival celebrations. A mud pot of yogurt is hung very high at a height of 20 feet to 30 feet from the ground using a rope. Young adult boys and small boys go around the pot and then form a human pyramid. The person at the top of the pyramid smashes the pot spilling the curd everywhere. This symbolises the action of child Krishna breaking the mud pots in the houses of their neighbours to steal the butter and curd in them. A similar ritual is observed in Gujarat where the dahi handi is replaced by a makhan handi.
In South India, the celebration style is a bit different. Devotees decorate their houses from the entrance right up to the pooja room with small footprints made of rice flour. These footprints represent the feet of child Krishna. Parents dress up their small boys as Lord Krishna and send them to visit their friends, neighbours and relatives. They recite slokas from the Bhagavad Gita and devotional songs in honour of the god.
Fasting and Food Restrictions
Hardcore followers observe a stringent fast or nirjala fast on Krishna Janmashtami and break their fast after the midnight pooja and rituals. This fast involves abstaining from even water. Those who are unable to undertake a total fast can opt for a partial fast as long as they eat only food made from the permitted items. These include food made using barnyard millet, arrowroot, buckwheat flour and tapioca flour. Rice flour and wheat flour are generally avoided on this day. The food prepared on this day must not be pungent or spicy.
Some vegetables such as yam, raw banana, colocasia, potato, lemon, cucumber, raw papaya and ginger can also be used to make food on Krishna Janmashtami. There is no restriction to the consumption of dairy products. It is important to avoid onion, garlic, brinjal, turnip and any form of meat and keep the food as light as possible.
As part of the pooja rituals, devotees offer fruits, sweets, seeda, poha and milk and milk products as prasad to Lord Krishna. Some sweets that are usually prepared on this occasion include kheer, malpua, panjiri, shrikhand, sweet palm fritters and panchamrit. Poha, milk and milk products are considered to be some favourite foods of the god.
After the pooja and the arti, the prasad is distributed among all members in the house or devotees visiting a shrine dedicated to the lord. Although these items are the most preferred food offerings, it is not necessary that only these items must be offered. The lord can be pleased with anything that is given to Him with a devout mind. Lord Krishna Himself mentions in the Bhagavad Gita that He will wholeheartedly accept even a leaf given to Him with love and utmost fervour.
Preparing Food for Lord Krishna
It is very important to maintain cleanliness when preparing food for Lord Krishna. Devotees wear clean clothes and wash their hands thoroughly before preparing the food. Moreover, the food that is prepared must never be tasted as it is meant to be offered to the lord.
Written by - Deepthi K