Janmashtami Celebrations

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Janmashtami Celebrations

Janmashtami - Celebrations in India

 
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare
 

Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, where his parents lived in captivity of the evil Kansa and Lord Krishna as a young boy came and vanquished his maternal uncle Kansa to ascend the throne and free his parents, celebrates Janmashtami with great enthusiasm. The main celebrations are performed at the Dwarkadhish temple, Mathura in the form of Jhulanotsava and the Ghatas during the entire month of Shravan.

The ghatas are a unique feature of the month long celebrations. During the ghatas of a particular colour the whole temple is covered with decoration in the same colour. Even the Lord dresses up in the same colour. The twin cities of Mathura-Vrindavan take on a festive look and spirit of devotion runs high among the people. It was on the banks of the Yamuna River where Lord Krishna played during his childhood and indulged in pranks and tricks with his friends and the gopies. There are about 400 temples dedicated to Lord Krishna in this sacred city and the major festivities are held at the Banke Bihari, Rangaji, Shri Krishna Balram temple and Gopinath temple. The Raslila of Braj is thematically the basis of many performing arts.

Lord Krishna was born in the Duapar Yug which came just before the Kal Yug and Janamasthami, his birthday falls on the Ashtami Paksh or the 8th day of the new moon fortnight in the month of Bhadra some time in July or August. The Jhankis (tableaux) depicting many significant scenes from Lord Krishna's life are the intrinsic part of Janmasthami. Devotees also make beautiful Jhulans (Cradles) for the baby Krishna.

In some parts of India, young men break the Matkas (Earthen Pots) filled with butter and curds. The most important tableux is that of baby Krishna. An idol of baby Krishna is placed on a cradle, which is rocked to recreate scenes from Krishna's infancy. The devotees believe that anyone who makes a wish and while rocking the cradle in which the Lord is, his or her wish will be granted on this day. Other popular Jhankis are Kaaliya Mardan (vanquishing the black snake Kali Nag), Kansha vadha (Killing Kansha) and lifting the Govardhan Parbhat.

In Brindavan, every year the Raaslilas or the folk theatre acting out Krishnas life stories begin much before the Janmasthami day. These Raaslilas are staged by professional drama troupes or even young children. These dramas are characterised by colourful costumes and equally colourful backgrounds. Raaslilas are usually accompanied by musicians and are very popular among the people. The language spoken by the actors and the actresses is the Brajbhasha but sometimes Hindi is also used.

In Maharashtra, Janmashtami witnesses the exuberant enactment of the god's childhood endeavors to steal butter and curd from earthen pots beyond his reach. In Maharashtra, earthen pots of curd and butter are hung up over the streets. Young men enacting an episode from Krishna's childhood form human pyramids by climbing on each other's shoulders and try to break these pots.

In Maharashtra, youths celebrate it by breaking clay pots called 'Dahi-Handi', filled with curd and butter suspended high above the ground, young men and children form human pyramid to reach the pot and break it. This custom follows the habit of Lord Krishna who used to steal butter in this manner from villagers along with his friends. The reason for this is that Gokul; the place where lord Krishna spent his childhood used to generate a lot of milk and the people used to sell it in Mathura, thus depriving their children from milk and butter which is very essential for young boys and girls.

In South India, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami is celebrated with prayers, devotional renditions and offering of fruits and special prasadams to Lord Krishna. In some houses, a typical setting of 'Gokulam' is arranged with mud images of Devaki, Vasudeva with little Krishna perched in a basket on his head, a cow, besides other things related to Krishna's legends.

     
     
     
     


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