The team at CSP wishes everyone a very Happy Krishna Janmashtami. It is that time of the year when little feet enter your house, your kitchen and have a go at the butter you have.
Shri Krishna, the beautiful yet mischievous lad of Gokula, is the eighth Avatara of Mahavishnu. When there is Adharma, Bhagavan, the supreme power, manifests as an Avatara comes down to Earth to establish Dharma. In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says “धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे” | He says,‘To establish Dharma, I will incarnate age after age.’ “He was born, on the eighth day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) of the traditional Indian calendar month of Shraavana, to Devaki and Vasudeva in the city of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh . Krishna was then brought up by Nanda and Yashoda in Gokula, a town fourteen kilometres from Mathura.
The innumerable leelas of Krishna always leave us spellbound and asking for more. The life of Bhagavan Krishna is divided into three stages- Vrindavan Leela, Dwarka Leela and Kurukshetra Leela.
In Vrindavana, Krishna won the hearts of all of its residents. While melodious tunes left the flute, the cows grazed peacefully. Charming the women of Vrindavan, Krishna ate the butter from their home. Although he was called the “Makhan Chor” (one who steals butter), he really was the “Chitta Chor” (one who stole our mind and its many irrelevant thoughts).
Krishna then ruled Mathura before moving down south to Dwarka in the state of Gujarat. It is here where his best friend, Sudama, visited him with a handful of puffed rice as a gift to Krishna. On Janmashtami, along with the variety of sweets, a dollop of butter and puffed rice is served.
A dear friend to the Pandava brothers, brother to Draupadi and the charioteer of Arjuna, Krishna’s guidance led them to victory. It is during this war, Bhagavan expounded to Arjuna the importance of Dharma and gave to us all the “Bhagavad-Gita”.
Janmashtami is a festival celebrated with grandeur across the world. He is after all “Jagadguru” (the world’s teacher). Different parts of India celebrate this day in different ways.
The city of Mathura would be bustling today with its streets adorning rangoli’s, homes decorated with flowers and lights. The Jhulautsav is where cradles with Krishna Lalla are displayed in homes and temples. Folk dance and drama performances (Rasleela) based on Krishna’s life add to the celebration. This ends with a feast of fifty six dishes, Chapan Bhog to all the locals. The famous Dahi Handi ritual where an earthen pot filled with buttermilk is hung at a height. Young lads form a human pyramid and the one at the top breaks the pot spilling the buttermilk over everyone.
In Gujarat, the air is filled with bhajans and kirtans praising Krishna all day long. The Dwarkadish temple is made accessible to all devotees to have Krishna’s darshan. In Manipur, Janmashtami or Krishna Janma is celebrated with music and dance performances enacted in Manipuri styles. The festivity begins only at midnight.
In south India, Krishna pooja is performed followed by Aarti and bhajans. Seedai, murukku, nippat and appam are a few of the sweets that are prepared. Homes are decorated with lamps and large kolams, not to forget the kolam of little feet of Krishna entering our homes and our hearts. Children dress up as little Krishna and go door to door spreading joy. Namasankirtans, chanting of the Narayaneeyam and the Bhagavad Gita constitute the day.
In Guruvayur, devotees line up for darshan at wee hours and offer cakes of rice paste and jaggery along with flower garlands. They also prepare appam, the main offering.
In Udupi, one lakh Tulsi leaves are offered to Krishna followed by the car festival (rath yatra). Chakkulis and laddus are prepared while Vitla Pindi (Dahi Handi) goes on. Vitla Pindi is a competition between many teams to break the buttermilk pot with each member of the team blindfolded.
Janmashtami is also celebrated outside India predominantly in New Zealand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Paris and Singapore. Bangladesh declares Janmashtami as a national holiday every year. In the Sri Sri Radha Giridhari temple in Auckland, celebrations begin at midnight. The temple is decorated with bright lights and kirtans are sung. The Richmond Hill Hindu temple in Canada celebrates Janmashtami with the blowing of the conch and the fragrance of flowers filling the air at midnight. In Singapore, devotees celebrate Janmashtami at the Shri Lakshminarayana temple along with cultural programmes. In Paris, people observe fasts and sing bhajans at the Shri Shri Radha Parisisvara temple.
Although celebrations remain subdued due to the pandemic, devotees continue to celebrate in their own homes chanting and singing the different names of Bhagavan. The heart wells up with joy as Krishna fills it up. We all truly hope that the following year, Janmashtami celebrations are back to its usual grandeur. We once again wish you all a very happy Krishna Janmashtami.
Krishna's painting credits: Shri GS Sudhindra