By Lipakshi Seedhar (Feature Writer)
The day is finally here!
The day when the gods were happy!
The day when even the earth rejoiced!
The day when the god himself came down to earth!
Yes, its Lord Krishna’s birthday! Its Krishna Janmashtami today! A happy day for all! A day when we celebrate our little mischievous makhan chor god.
Vasudeva and Devaki’s eighth son was born with a destiny to not only kill his evil uncle Kamsa but also to teach love to the people. Born at the midnight on the eighth day of Bhadrapada month in the jail where his parents were kept by Kamsa. The night he was born, his father carried him and crossed the river Yamuna and exchanged him with Nanda and Yashoda’s daughter, who was goddess Durga in disguise. This day is celebrated at Krishna Janmashtami all over the world.
On this day, the temples are decorated with flowers, diyas, balloons and lights. Traditional sweets are made, his favourite maakhan is given are prasad to all the devotees. Krishna devotees hold special events where they dress up as Lord Krishna, Radha, Sudama, etc and perform skits from his life and dance all night. On this day, the idol of Bal Gopal, or the baby Krishna, is dressed in new clothes and kept in a little swing which people come and swing. At midnight, the murti abhishek is done with milk, ghee, honey, curd and Gangajal. People keep awake the whole night and celebrate Lord Krishna’s birth with full enthusiasm.
While the temples are flooded with crowd, people also dress the idols in their own houses in new clothes and do the pooja. This celebration is followed by Dahi Handi the next morning in which earthen pots filled with yogurt are hung high up and the Krishna devotees, or the Govindas, would make human pyramid and try to break the Dahi Handi. Jannmashtami is celebrated all over the world and so different places have different rituals. While in north India, it is a day’s celebration, in Maharashtra, Janmashtami is celebrated as a two-day event.
In the eastern state of Odisha, specifically the region around Puri and in Nabadwip, West Bengal, the festival is also referred to as Sri Krishna Jayanti or simply Sri Jayanti. People celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and worship until midnight. The Bhagavata Purana is recited from the 10th chapter, a section dedicated to the life of Krishna. The next day is called “Nanda Utsav” or the joyous celebration of Krishna’s foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. Devotees keep fasting during the entire day of Janmashtami. They bring water from Ganga to bathe Radha Madhava during their abhisheka ceremony. A grand abhisheka is performed at midnight for the small Radha Madhava Deities while bhoga offering of more than 400 items is offered to Their Lordships with devotion.
Gokula Ashtami celebrates the birthday of Krishna. Gokulashtami is celebrated with great fervor in South India. In Tamil Nadu, the people decorate the floor with kolams . Geetha Govindam and other such devotional songs are sung in praise of Krishna. Then they draw the footprints of Krishna from the threshold of the house till the pooja room, which depicts the arrival of Krishna into the house. A recitation of Bhagwadgita is also a popular practice. The offerings made to Krishna include fruits, betel and butter.
The festival is also celebrated overseas with varied rituals:
- Janmashtami is a national holiday in Bangladesh. On Janmashtami, a procession starts from Dhakeshwari Templein Dhaka, the National Temple of Bangladesh, and then proceeds through the streets of Old Dhaka.
- Fiji’s Janmashtami celebrations are unique in that they last for eight days, leading up to the eighth day, the day Krishna was born. During these eight days, Hindus gather at homes and at temples with their ‘mandalis,’ or devotional groups at evenings and night, and recite the Bhagavat Purana, sing devotional songs for Krishna, and distribute Prasadam.
- The festival is also celebrated widely by Hindus in Caribbean in the countries of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the former British colony Fiji as well as the former Dutch colony of Suriname.
And even though the corona virus still haunts us but people’s devotion is no less. The excitement is only increasing. People this time have kept it a little lowkey and instead of going to various temples, they have decorated their own mandirs in the house, sweets are being made with extra attention for Krishna’s favourite Maakhan. New outfits for their Bal Gopal have been brought in and the preparatipn for his abhishek is being done. There’s happiness all around.